Tamil party threatens to withdraw from Sri Lankan polls

14:14, July 18, 2011      

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A key minority Tamil political party in Sri Lanka has threatened to withdraw from local polls in the north of the country scheduled for later this week over claims that its members face continued harassment and threats by the military and a rival political party.

The Tamil National Alliance said Monday that it had requested the elections commission in the country to invite foreign monitors for the polls but the commission turned down the request.

Local council elections will be held in several parts of Sri Lanka on Saturday including in northern Jaffna, two years after a bitter war between Tamil Tiger rebels and the military came to a bloody end.

Tamil National Alliance member M.K Sivajilingham told Xinhua that most of the party members are of the view that they should withdraw from the polls and the party will be compelled to accede to the demands if harassment continues.

The one time pro-Tamil Tiger political party said that the Ealam Peoples Democratic Party led by a Sri Lankan government minister is involved in the intimidation.

An official of the U.S. Embassy in Sri Lanka visited Jaffna last week to assess the situation in the area in the midst of reports of voter intimidation and threats to Tamil opposition political parties.

The U.S. official is believed to have met senior government officials in the north to discuss the situation and see for himself the environment prior to the upcoming local council elections.

Sri Lanka ended a 30 year-old war against Tamil Tiger rebels in May 2009 but has since then been accused of committing war crimes during the final stages of the battle, a charge the Sri Lankan government has rejected.

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