The first-ever elections to the Northern Provincial Council must be “perfect and transparent”, and an environment conducive to the holding of free and fair elections could be created in the North by September 2013, the government said yesterday.
“The first Provincial Council election in the North has to be perfect and transparent. We don’t want to hold an election and then get blamed,” Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa told Daily Mirror.
The minister said President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa were both very keen to have elections in the North, but emphasised that an environment for a proper election had first to be created.
“Confounding all expectations, we managed to resettle almost 95% of the IDPs. But there are older IDPs from all three communities who have to be resettled. We have to create the suitable environment for their return. It is the duty of the government to create such an environment before holding elections. Otherwise, we will be accused of depriving the displaced persons of their right to vote,” he said.
“The people in the North had been under a repressive regime for almost three decades. Grassroots level organisations have not been established. Even for the SLFP, there is no environment for a proper campaign. All political parties are entitled to campaign on an equal footing; and it is the government’s responsibility to create such an environment,” Mr. Rajapaksa said.
Explaining the rationale behind the holding of early elections to three PCs, Mr. Rajapaksa said, “Regular elections are an important democratic tradition. It is essential to check the pulse of the people from time to time, If we are on the wrong track, we can adjust and take corrective action.” (Ayesha Zuhair)