Today marks a red letter day for
Batticaloa where its people will be electing their Local
Government representatives after a lapse of nearly 15 years.
The liberation of the East from the grip of the LTTE has now
provided the necessary backdrop for the re-establishment of all
the democratic structures in the province.
Today’s local poll is to be followed by Provincial Council
Elections in the near future and the Government should be
commended for speeding up the restoration of democracy in these
areas where the people for long had only been exposed to the gun
Elections are after all the lifeblood of democracy and should
be pursued with whatever the odds. Many elections have been held
in the backdrop of anarchy but they were justified as a fait
accompli by noted observers if the system was to survive. The
will of the people was deemed paramount over anything else.
Today’s election too is test of the will of a people who not
so long ago had no say in the course of their destinies and the
affairs of their lives.
Hence when they step out en masse to elect their first Local
Government bodies in over one and half decades they would in
effect be taking their first step to be active partners in
administering their own affairs - a novelty which no doubt they
will savour after living under the jackboot of the LTTE all
these years and having their fate decided for themselves by a
ruthless band of terrorists.
Apart from providing a fresh breath of freedom to the people
of Batticaloa to assert themselves over their destinies today’s
elections will also provide the catalyst for resurgence of the
people and ensure their gradual induction into the democratic
Therefore it is incumbent on the Government to ensure that
the momentum continues even after the poll and the fruits of
democracy are enjoyed by these people to the fullest if the
whole exercise is to have any relevance.
In this respect the Government should be commended for losing
no time in moving to restore democratic institutions in the East
no sooner the Province was liberated from the LTTE.
By thus filling in the breach sans delay, it has on the one
hand, while moving quickly to heal the scars of the people from
lengthy oppression has also ensured that no vacuum exists that
could be exploited by interested parties to sow the seeds of
discord and negate the gains of military achievements.
True, there are bound to be hiccups in the nascent
adminstration of these councils and it will be some time before
the new dispensation will be able to fit into the democratic
structures especially considering that the some of the parties
in the fray are ex-armed groups who may take time to assimilate
into the new set up.
It is therefore necessary that critics act with
circumspection without rushing into pounce on any shortcomings
or drawbacks while the Government too should leave no stone
unturned to provide these local bodies with the necessary
resources and wherewithal to enable their smooth functioning.
Funds should be disbursed speedily to ensure that peoples’
needs which have been left unattended for such a long period are
met without delay, since the local bodies will have difficulties
generating their own funds due to the peculiar conditions in the
The Government should also through its largesse try to win
over the confidence of these people and get them integrated with
the national polity.
Today’s election will also mark the foray into democratic
mainstream of the TMVP an offshoot of the Karuna faction.
Whatever the critics may say the Government had pulled off a
real coup by roping in this group, widely considered to be the
linchpin in the LTTE’s fighting machinery, to enter electoral
politics alongside other ex-armed groups who are also
contesting. This, while eliminating a huge battle field threat
to the Forces also augers well for further isolating the LTTE.
The party has put forward its manifesto which has underlined
problems that are unique to the Eastern population such as lack
proper education facilities and common amenities.
Short of compromising security, the Government should take
steps to speedily address this issues in alliance with the
elected representatives so that the people would gradually shed
their sense of isolation and in turn facilitate integration.
It is assumed that the mega infrastructure development
projects such as road construction and restoration of civic
amenities that were launched under the Eastern Reawakening
programme in the immediate aftermath of the Eastern liberation
would provide the ideal launching pad for the newly elected
bodies to build on and meet the requirements of the people.
It is hoped that the newly elected local bodies will meet up
to the gigantic challenges before them in transforming the
chequered existence of a population and emerge as model local
Government institutions that could be emulated by the rest in