Colombo: Sri Lanka has started the process of much-awaited elections in the former Tamil Tigers-held areas after a gap of 25 years, with the Elections Commission on Thursday announcing nominations for the provincial council polls.
Commissioner of Elections Mahinda Deshapriya announced nomination dates for the northern provincial council election.
The nominations will be accepted from July 25 to August 1 and deposits will be accepted from July 25 up to July 31, the election secretariat said.
The nominations will also be accepted for elections in the central and north provincial councils besides the north.
The election secretariat sources said the elections could be held on September 28, allowing the necessary time frames stipulated under the Provincial Councils Act.
The northern council polls the first ever since the provincial councils became part of the island`s statutes in 1987 - is much anticipated by international watchers who urge Colombo to achieve reconciliation with the Tamil minority.
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.
With the LTTE`s elimination in 2009, elections to the northern council were held back given the resettlement and rehabilitation in the former war ravaged areas.
The election preparations are being marred by the government move to dilute the powers of the provinces, especially to control land and the provincial police force.
India, the main architects of the provincial councils in Sri Lanka, has welcomed the announcement on elections, but insisted that unfettered powers must be allowed to remain with the councils despite demands from President Mahinda Rajapaksa`s nationalist allies to scrap them.