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TNA wants reduction in troops ahead of northern Lanka polls

Press Trust of India  |  Colombo 

Lankan Tamil Party, Tamil National Alliance called for scaling down of military presence in northern Sri Lanka, before the northern provincial council elections.

TNA yesterday requested Chief Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya reduce the military presence in northern during a meeting attended by all the political parties to discuss polls arrangements.

"The elections commissioner told us that our request to limit troops to barracks cannot be However he promised to reduce the military behaviour in civil affairs by getting more and more police to do the work" said M A Sumanthiran, a senior TNA legislator.

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.

While the government maintains that a military presence was needed to ensure national security.

"Troops are already in their barracks, the TNA is only making headlines to please the pro-LTTE diaspora," said Susil Premajayantha, a senior minister and general secretary of the ruling United Peoples Freedom Alliance.

Joseph Michael Perera, the senior main opposition UNP legislator said his party would back the election chief's proposals to have more policing.

Rohana Hettiararchchi, the chief of the main election watch dog, People's Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL) said that Deshapriya was wiling to accommodate polls monitors from the Commonwealth and the Asian Observers, but there was no agreement to deploy European Union (EU) observers.

India's National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon who visited Colombo last week had also underlined the need to conduct a free and fair poll in the north.

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.

First Published: Sat, July 13 2013. 14:15 IST