Sri Lanka peace bid side-lined in local vote

Mar.30 (AFP) – Sri Lanka Thursday voted at local elections after a lack-lustre campaign where even the usually divisive peace process was pushed to the background, officials and analysts said. Voting was slow across the country, elections officials said adding, however, that there was no balloting in the island’s restive northern and eastern regions where Tamil Tiger rebels are in control.

“This is not an election that will impact on the peace process,” said Sunanda Deshapriya, director at the Centre for Policy Alternatives think tank. “The peace issue was left out of the campaign by almost all the key parties.”

The vote is the first test of public opinion since President Mahinda Rajapakse came to power at the November 17 election with the support of nationalist Buddhist monks and Marxists.

The Marxist JVP, or People’s Liberation Front, appeared more active in the campaign that was dominated by local issues such as garbage disposal and public utilities.

The JVP as well as the party of monks oppose Norway’s role as peace broker and is also against any concessions to Tamil Tiger rebels.

Although they are united in their opposition to the peace process, they are contesting aga