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Tuesday, 20 November, 2001, 16:53 GMT
Tamil parties campaign in rebel areas
Sri Lankan tank in Jaffna
The first election campaign in rebel areas in 14 years
Moderate Tamil politicians in Sri Lanka are deciding on their strategy for next month's elections following their first campaign in rebel-controlled areas in 14 years.

Members of the Tamil National Alliance - formed this year to fight the election on a common platform - visited four Tamil Tiger-controlled villages in the eastern Batticoloa district on Monday.

A candidate from the Tamil Eelam Liberation Organisation (Telo) contesting under the alliance banner, Prasana Indrakumar, said they held meetings to explain their manifesto because they wanted it approved by all people in the Tamil homeland.

Tamil reaction

Another candidate from the Tamil United Liberation Front (Tulf), A Selvendran, said people had expressed happiness that Tamil parties had got together.

Ballot box in Sri Lanka
Elections will be held on 5 December
He said people in the villages he visited said they were waiting for a solution to the conflict which has plagued the country for nearly two decades.

Another request was for better transport facilities to enable voters to travel to polling booths on election day.

Many Sinhalese politicians now accuse Tamil moderate parties like Telo and Tulf of being stooges of the Tamil Tigers.

But in the past both groups have blamed the assassination of their leaders on the Tigers.

Parts of northern and eastern Sri Lanka lie under rebel control, but civilians in those areas have a right to vote in general elections.

In last year's polls, it is estimated that 30% of the population living in rebel areas in the east of the island came to cluster polling booths set up in government territory.

See also:

29 Oct 01 | South Asia
Sri Lanka election opens with blast
06 Sep 01 | South Asia
Sri Lanka pact defended
29 Aug 01 | South Asia
Sri Lanka changes tack on ceasefire
26 Jul 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Sri Lanka
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