Sri Lanka today announced that two key provincial elections would be held at the end of March which will likely coincide with an expected UNHRC resolution criticising the country's human rights record.
Mahinda Deshapriya, the Election Commissioner said the Western and Southern Provincial Councils would go to the polls on March 29, about the same time as the widely anticipated resolution by the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva against Sri Lanka's lack of progress on human rights accountability and reconciliation with the Tamil minority after a brutal three-decade civil war.
The resolution, the third in as many years, has been moved by the US. India had backed the previous two resolutions.
The government fears that the resolution may end up calling for an independent international probe on Sri Lanka's alleged war crimes during the final phase of the military battle with the LTTE in 2009.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa dissolved the two provincial councils in December and has resorted to holding staggered elections as a test of his popularity among the majority Sinhala community and also with the aim of wearing down a fractured opposition.
The government has denied opposition claims that it is attempting to gain a domestic political advantage in the polls by whipping up nationalist sentiment over the UN resolution.
Rajapaksa, addressing the national independence day on Tuesday, dubbed the resolution as a grave crime against Sri Lanka telling the Sinhala electorate that he would not betray the newfound peace in the island just because of the threat of the resolution.
While the ruling coalition seems bent on using the UN resolution as a major plank of its poll campaign, the opposition has so far focused on breakdown of law and order and alleged widespread corruption in governance.