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* Sri Lanka President to meet coalition parties to address controversy over Northern PC elections
Sun, May 12, 2013, 08:03 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

May 12, Colombo: Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has scheduled two crucial meetings with the coalition parties of the ruling United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) and the major Tamil political party, Tamil National Alliance (TNA) to mainly discuss the Northern Provincial Council election, government sources said.

According to sources, the discussion will be focused on the ideological division in the coalition regarding the Northern PC elections, which is scheduled to be held in September.

Several parties of the UPFA have openly objected to holding elections for the Northern Provincial Council while the leftist parties in the coalition back the election and the power devolution.

The division of the coalition parties over the election has created a problem for the government to hold the elections for the North, sources say.

Coalition party members have presented opposing views during the recent cabinet meeting and the President has stressed that every point presented by them needs to be considered carefully.

Several coalition partners have asked the government to trim the police and land powers of the provincial council governments before holding the election for the Northern PC and provide the opportunity for the Sinhala and Muslim people forcibly displaced from the North by the Tamil rebels to vote in the election.

However, the Sri Lanka Communist Party, a constituent party of the government, has said that if the government amends the 13th Amendment to the Constitution to annul police and land powers vested to provinces under it, the party will take a tough action against the move.

While the Community Party has held the view that more powers should be given to provinces and election for Northern PC should be held soon, the Sinhala nationalist party Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) and the National Freedom Front led by Minister Wimal Weerawansa have called for halting the election.

The major Muslim party, Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) has also opposed the implementation of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution and removal of police and land powers from the provinces.

General Secretary of SLMC Hasan Ali said the party will contest the elections independently and not under the ruling party.

Sinhala nationalist parties have meanwhile pointed out that if the major Tamil party Tamil National Alliance wins the Northern PC elections the party will achieve its goal of a separate state in the North.

They also point out that holding the elections without resettling the Sinhala and Muslim people who lived in the province before the war and later chased away by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is unfair and those people should also be given the chance to exercise their franchise in the elections.

The JHU and the NFF plan to explain the damaging consequences of holding the polls in the North to the public soon.

Meanwhile, the President has also planned to have a discussion with the major Tamil party Tamil National Alliance (TNA). Government sources say the TNA has also agreed for this discussion.

The international community considers Northern Province Council elections as an urgent step towards reconciliation with the Tamil minority and has urged the Sri Lankan government to hold the elections for the province to restore civil administration in the region.

This would be the first time provincial council elections would be held in the North after the provincial council system was introduced in 1987 following the Indo-Lanka Accord.

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