Mainstream political parties in Sri Lanka are gearing up for legal battles ahead of the first ever nation-wide local council polls, to challenge the rejection of a record number of nominations.
The election department has set March 17 as the date for the elections to elect representatives for 301 local councils, including in the north and the east, areas which were once the theatre of war with the LTTE.
The election department said that 450 nominations submitted by political parties and independent groups have been rejected. Majority of the rejected nominations were from independent groups, while 148 were from political parties. Political parties say they will take recourse to legal action against the rejections of their candidates' nominations to secure placements to run in the local polls.
The ruling United National Freedom Alliance (UPFA) was the worst affected among the mainstream political parties by the rejections, followed by the main opposition United National Party (UNP). All nominations filed for local councils in Jaffna district by the UPFA were rejected due to mistakes in the Tamil translation of the party's name.
The UPFA also failed to secure nominations for three local councils in the Kilinochchi district, the former stronghold of the LTTE. Rejection of the ruling party's nominations in the north is considered as a major setback for the government as it minimises the opportunity to have a ruling party foot print at ground level.
Legal battles for securing nominations, if continued over a longer period, may delay the elections for respective councils. This will be Sri Lanka's first nationwide local elections since the LTTE was defeated and its hold overthrown from the northern province in 2009.