Mannar Bishop says no to poll boycott urged by some northern parties in Lanka

COLOMBO (The Island/ANN) - Mannar Bishop vows to thwart attempts at a polls boycott on November 16, observing that a collective of North and Eastern Tamil political parties is urging voters not to vote for Sinhala Presidential candidates.

Religious leaders in Mannar would thwart attempts being made in some quarters to stage a polls boycott on 16 Nov., Bishops of Mannar, Lionel Emmanuel Fernando told New Democratic Front (NDF) presidential candidate, Sajith Premadasa, last Friday.

Bishop Fernando said so when Premadasa visited his office to seek blessings. Premadasa was in Mannar to address a series of rallies in support of his candidacy.

Bishop Fernando, after blessing Premadasa, said that all ethnic communities should be united. Divisions among communities would lead Sri Lanka down a dangerous path, the Bishop said.

"Some groups are urging the people to boycott the upcoming election. No group has a legal or an ethical right to deprive the people of their right to vote," he said.

Several Northern groups, including Eelam Peoples’ Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF) faction led by Suresh Premachandran, the Thamil Makkal Koottani led by C.V. Vigneswaran, and All Ceylon Tamil Congress (ACTC) led by Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam have urged Northern voters not to vote for any Sinhala candidates at the November 16 election. They took the decision after none of the two main candidates, Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Sajith Premadasa responded positively to the set of 13 demands made by five different parties representing the North.

The demands include the following: Sri Lankan Tamil issue must be found by setting up a new federal constitution rejecting the heretofore unitary constitution accepting the nationhood of the Sri Lankan Tamils and recognizing its sovereignty and also accepting that Tamils under the provisions of International Law are entitled to the right of self determination; full fledged independent impartial International mechanisms through the International Criminal Court /International Arbitration Tribunal must be set up to inquire into the War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity and Genocide committed during the final stages of the war and an independent mechanism must be set up under the supervision of Elected Representatives of the people of the Northern and Eastern Provinces to handle all finances for Development in the said two Provinces, after proclaiming the Northern and Eastern Provinces as areas affected by the War.

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