Sri Lanka set for regional vote in former Tiger bastion

April 3, 2008 (AFP) – Sri Lanka Thursday announced that key local government elections will be held next month in an area that was last year wrested from rebel control after months of heavy fighting. The elections commission said voting for the Eastern Provincial Council will be held on May 10.

Security forces established control over the region surrounding the lagoon town of Batticaloa after driving out separatist Tamil Tiger rebels in July 2007 and confining their mini-state to the north of the island.

“The balloting for the Eastern Provincial Council will be held on May 10 in the districts of Ampara, Batticaloa and Trincomalee,” a spokesman for the commission said.

The government conducted a vote for smaller local bodies in the Batticaloa district last month and a former Tamil rebel group who are now loyal to Colombo swept polls.

The provincial councils, the highest local government body, has limited autonomy and was first initiated in 1987 in a bid to address demands by minority Tamils for a greater say in running their own administration. .