COLOMBO, SRI LANKA, JUNE 24 -- -- The government announced today that it will hold parliamentary elections in Tamil-dominated districts, including areas held by rebels fighting for a separate Tamil homeland.
Sri Lanka's Tamil minority has not been represented in Parliament since the 1983 resignation of all 16 lawmakers belonging to the moderate Tamil United Liberation Front party over a government demand that they swear allegiance to a united Sri Lanka.
The government did not explain how the authorities would conduct elections when its military does not control all of Sri Lanka's Tamil-majority areas, largely in the northern Jaffna Peninsula.
Nominations of candidates for the 16 vacancies were to be in by July 16. A date has not yet been set for balloting.
There was no immediate reaction from Tamil groups on whether they would participate.
An Indian relief ship left Madras, India, today for Kankesanthurai, a government-controlled town on the Jaffna Peninsula, with nearly 900 tons of food and medicine. The mission comes after both governments reached an agreement allowing India to send relief to the peninsula, where government troops launched an offensive against Tamil rebels last month.An earlier such mission by India was halted by Sri Lanka's Navy.