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Sri Lanka to hold local elections in north

May 25, 2009 (AFP) - Sri Lanka is to hold local elections later this year in parts of northern areas formerly held by the Tamil Tigers for the first time in 15 years, an official said Monday. A spokesman for the local government ministry said voting will be held between August 4 and 17 to elect municipal councils in Vavuniya and Jaffna, parts of which were held by the rebels prior to their defeat last week.

The government held the last local council elections in Vavuniya, the capital of the Wanni region, in March 1994.

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The last election on the Jaffna peninsula was in 1998.

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Vast areas of the island's northern Wanni region had been under the control of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), who were fighting to carve out a separate Tamil state on the ethnic Sinhalese-majority island.

The government staged similar local elections in the east of the island after the area was wrested from Tiger control in July 2007.

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