Sri Lanka’s Northern Province — which was torn apart during the nearly three-decade ethnic war — will on Saturday witness its first provincial council elections in about 25 years.

The elections, to be held simultaneously in the Central and North Western Provinces, have drawn considerable attention but all eyes are on the Northern Province. This area — comprising Jaffna, Mullaitivu, Kilinochchi, Vavuniya and Mannar districts — has over seven lakh registered voters.

There is visible excitement among the people with the last few days of campaign seeing huge gatherings. However, many see the elections as merely a “starting point” in their pursuit of a long-term political solution to the Tamil question.

With an executive presidency and an all-powerful Governor appointed by the President, much, say local politicians, would depend on the power that the Provincial Council will be given post-elections.

Teams of international monitors representing the Commonwealth and the Saarc nations are in the Northern Province.