Six political parties and three independent groups have handed over their nomination papers in respect of the forthcoming elections to the Vayamba provincial council. The PA,UNP and the JVP are among the political parties in the fray.The Sri Lanka Muslim Congress(see SLMC To Contest ) at the last minute decided to contest under the PA list. The MEP has decided to boycott the Vayamba elections on the grounds that the elections to five other provincial councils including western, southern and central were postponed . They want these elections to be held first.

The nominations were closed on Tuesday the 8th amidst reports of sporadic violence in the Puttalama district. Kurunegala, the other district in which the elections will be held, was relatively calm. It is expected that the elections to the Vayamba provincial councils will be held on the 25th of January 1999.

This is the first time elections will be held, if the government does not decide to postpone them, to a provincial council, after the PA government was elected in 1994. The government's record in the last four years will be tested and one cannot agree with the decision of the MEP not to contest.

It is certain that neither the political package nor the negotiations with the LTTE will become issues at the elections. The Sinhala people, in general, do not consider these larger issues at the elections. They will vote on the economic and administrative record of the government if free elections are held. However, as it is unlikely that the elections will be free from violence and intimidation, it would be difficult to interpret the results of the elections.

Whoever wins the NGO lobby will go to town claiming that the electorate has rejected Sinhala chauvinism. If the PA wins it will be a vote for the package whereas if the UNP wins they will claim that the people want negotiations with the LTTE to commence based on the Fox agreement. But the truth is that the people would not have considered these matters at the time of voting.