By Charles Haviland
TNA says people connected with the ruling coalition are intimidating its candidates
The largest Tamil party in Sri Lanka has called for foreign monitors to have a presence at local elections in northern Sri Lanka that are due to take place later this month.
It says people connected with the governing coalition are using foul means to intimidate its candidates. The government denies it.
The Tamil National Alliance (TNA), the main party that explicitly speaks for the country’s Tamil minority, has accused the government of obstructing its election campaign in three northern districts, including areas that were a war zone until two years ago.
One of its MPs, MA Sumanthiran, says he has sent a list of complaints to the election commissioner in the capital.
He said that a dog’s head was hung on the gate of one candidate, and that stones, mud and faeces were thrown into the houses of others.
His concerns have been echoed by human rights groups.
Mr Sumanthiran said the government was afraid that his party would sweep the board in the local elections due on 23rd July and was trying to concoct an excuse to postpone them.
But a government parliamentarian, AHM Azwer, denied the accusation and said the government wanted free and fair elections.
He said it was the TNA that feared losing as a result of large infrastructure projects being developed by the government.
Here in northern Sri Lanka the BBC has been allowed to move around freely for the first time in years.
There are numerous posters to be seen advertising President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his coalition candidates but almost none on behalf of opposition parties.
Government figures including the president’s close relatives are visiting the north and campaigning hard; they have block-booked the only hotel in the town of Kilinochchi until polling day.