Sri Lanka to reduce troops from north
Colombo: The Sri Lankan Army on Wednesday announced its plans to further reduce the presence of military from northern Jaffna peninsula, a former stronghold of the LTTE, as the region prepares for provincial polls.
"A decision has been taken to move troops from thirteen small military camps located in the Walikamam sector of Jaffna District to the Palaly Cantonment, thereby further reducing presence of troops in that area", Brigadier Ruwan Wanigasooriya, the military spokesman said in a release.
The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) recently requested Chief Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya to reduce the military presence in northern Sri Lanka.
The TNA has highlighted the large military presence in the north as an unhealthy turn of events in the island`s post conflict phase since the LTTE defeated militarily in 2009.
The Lankan election commission has set July 25 and August 1 as the dates for filing of nominations for the northern provincial council election to be held in September.
Wanigasooriya said the present locations, for which the Army paid rent, will be handed over to the original owners.
"This is yet another step in the ongoing process of relocating the military in the Jaffna peninsula and reducing the presence of troops".
Last week the European Parliament urged to create a military free environment in the north in the lead up to the northern election.
Sri Lanka`s own Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) report has also recommended the reduction of military presence in civilian areas.
Sri Lanka has faced pressure from the international community to create a civilian environment in the north since the end to the military conflict with the LTTE, but the government maintains that a military presence was needed to ensure national security.