Indian observers in Sri Lanka`s northern provincial polls
Colombo: Five Indians will be among other foreign observers for a crucial provincial polls in Sri Lanka`s Tamil-dominated north scheduled for September 21 after a gap of 25 years.
External affairs minister G L Peiris said there will be five Indian observers, including N Gopalaswami, a former Indian elections commissioner, at the northern provincial council elections.
In addition, there will be five from Pakistan, three from Bangladesh, two each from Nepal and Maldives and one each from Afghanistan and Bhutan, he said.
The observer team from the Commonwealth countries would include a former Vice President from Kenya and former senior election officials from Australia, Bangladesh and the Caribbean.
Peiris said the deployment of foreign observers was a departure from the practise when the government had refused to allow international monitors for local elections.
The northern provincial council election came about as a result of consistent pledges from Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and is seen as a crucial move by his international partners.
In the first north and east provincial council elections held in 1988, only one political party participated due to the LTTE`s armed campaign to set up a separate Tamil homeland.
The two provinces de-merged in 2006 as a result of a court order and the first ever eastern provincial council election was held in 2008.
The northern provincial council election is considered as a major step towards reconciliation with the island`s Tamil minority since the end of nearly three-decade-long civil war in 2009 that killed an estimated 100,000 people, when government troops finally crushed LTTE rebels.
The international community, including India, have been constantly urging Sri Lanka to hold the election in a free and fair manner.
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