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Sri Lanka

Tamil party still has strong support in elections

Article published on the 2009-08-09 Latest update 2009-08-09 16:34 TU

A boy carries water in a displaced persons camp in Jaffna.(Photo: AFP)

A boy carries water in a displaced persons camp in Jaffna.
(Photo: AFP)

Results of the first polls to be held in the Sri Lanka’s north after the devastating military operation, which wiped out the Tamil Tigers separatist group, show that support is still strong for the opposition Tamil party, once the political wing of the militant organisation.

The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) took five seats on the Vavuniya municipal council, while President Mahinda Rajapakse's People's Alliance got only two.

However the president's party won 13 seats on the Jaffna municipal council, defeating the Tamil National Alliance, which took eight.

Saturday's elections -- the first in the area since government troops finally quashed the LTTE in May -- were seen as an attempt by the national administration to test its popularity since fighting ended.

Turnout among the 125,000 eligible voters was 28 per cent in Tamil-majority Jaffna and Vavuniya, a low number that can be explained by the fact that those forced to live in the displaced persons camps were not permitted to vote.

The government has pledged that 80 per cent of those living in the camps will be resettled by December. But in the meantime, international organisations, who have only limited access to these people, decry the deplorable humanitarian conditions in the camps.