Polls predict pyrrhic victory for TNA
Posted on September 20th, 2013

H. L. D. Mahindapala

What is most critical for the TNA to convince the Tamils, both in and out of Sri Lanka, is not the number of seats they win on Saturday -” this not in dispute — but the overall percentage of votes they are likely to collect from the electorate. A majority of seats in the Provincial Council will superficially lend them some political fizz to crow that they have the mandate of the Tamil people. But the decisive factor is not‚  in the number of the seats they capture to run the Northern Provincial Council. The TNA is fighting for something more than that. Their aim to go beyond capturing a majority to win an unambiguous and convincing expression of the Tamil people-â„¢s will for a separate state -” the ultimate aim of TNA expressed in devious and ambiguous language.

This election in the North is not about who is going‚  to win power in the Provincial Council. It is primarily about the struggle of the TNA to emerge as -the sole representative of the Tamils.- And they are flogging the Vadukoddai Resolution to claim legitimacy as -the sole representative of the Tamils- -” the curse of peninsular politics with each rival party denying the legitimacy of the other to represent the Tamils. This is a process that will drag the Northern‚ Tamils back to the disastrous Vadukoddai Resolution. But for the TNA to emerge as -the sole representative of the Tamils- it must win with a substantial majority. The anti-Sri Lankan campaign of the Tamil Diaspora also depends ‚ n the margin of victory. The Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE) realize that the TNA must win convincingly at the electoral level for them to go round the corridors of power in the West -” their political base -” and claim that the Tamil people are for a separate state as laid‚  down‚  in the Vadukoddai Resolution. .

The separatist agenda and winning power in Northern Province are two separate issues running parallel with each other in this election. The TNA and the Tamil Diaspora are projecting both as interchangeable issues, one backing the other. They would interpret the victory for TNA as a victory for separatism. The TNA will no doubt‚  cry from roof tops that their winning a majority in the Provincial Council will be a political statement of the Tamil people for greater autonomy leading to a separate state. The Tamil Diaspora too is waiting to renew their‚  claim for a separate state based on TNA winning in tomorrow-â„¢s election. The Tamil Diaspora has decided that the best bet for them is the TNA and they have, by and large, put‚  their money on the TNA. Their hopes were expressed in the latest TGTE communiquƒ© which said:‚  -We do wish whole heartedly that the TNA reaches an unprecedented victory at the NPC elections-¦- –‚ ‚  (-ËœNPC Elections: What is to be Done-â„¢, Colombo Telegraph Sept 17, 2013)

But can the TNA score the -unprecedented victory- to justify their claim for separatism, or even greater autonomy? Winning -the‚  unprecedented victory- is not on the cards. ‚ If the pre-election opinion poll conducted by the Centre for Policy Alternative (CPA) ‚ is a clear reflection of the current political trends in the Northern Province then the chances of TNA reaching ‚ an -unprecedented victory- is ‚ remote. The TNA must score somewhere between 75 -” 80 % to convince themselves -” let alone ‚ the ‚ public — that the Northern Province is solidly behind their political agenda. But, despite the pretentious pose of the TNA to inherit the mantle of Prabhakaran as -the sole representative of the Jaffna Tamils-, the published result of CPA for the TNA gives the TNA only 34% in round figures. This is way below even 50%.

The equally surprising ‚ figure is for the UPFA -” the main rival in the ‚ elections. According to CPA 22 % believe that UPFA will win. This is a substantial percentage ‚ that will cut the ground under the feet of the TNA. If the CPA figures have picked up the ground situation in Jaffna accurately then the TNA-â„¢s chances of scoring an -unprecedented victory- is doomed. Of course, what matters is the final count which will be determined by the 44.4% -Don-â„¢t Knows-/ -May Be-â„¢s-. To score the ‚ -unprecedented victory- TNA will have to capture the 44.4% -Don-â„¢t Knows- and -May Be-â„¢s-. Can they do it?

No serious psephologist will concede that this category of -Don-â„¢t Knows- will vote en bloc to carry TNA over the 75% mark. Besides, the polls do not indicate that the people are craving to return to Prabhakaranism, despite C. V. Wigneswaram-â„¢s ill-timed, ill-conceived, opportunistic rush to ‚ proclaim Prabhakaran as a -hero- of the Tamils. In their pragmatic way, the Jaffnaites are quite aware that Prabhakaranism / separatism is not the answer to their immediate problems. As revealed in the CPA report of the pre-election survey they are more focused on -job opportunities, improving education, housing and improving roads and transport-¦.- than on the politics of separatism which they know will lead to another war.

The CPA report reveals a clear disconnect between the political illusions at the top and the hard ground realities where economics dominate. All indicators are that the Tamil people do not want to go back to the failed past. They are more focused on going into a more secure economic future. They are more keen on consolidating their new gains rather than losing everything once ‚ again. The report adds: -In the last four years, majority of the respondents (63.7%) believe that development in the Northern Province has somewhat improved while 26.1% say that it has greatly improved. When it comes to personal security, 41.3% state that it has somewhat improved in the last four years while 21.6% say that there has been no change. Almost 40% believe that their livelihoods have somewhat improved while 33.9% say that there has been no change. When selecting candidates the most important factor that matter to most respondents is that candidates are engaged in community service and village development while honest, suitable candidates with good policies come a close second. Most respondents appear optimistic about the upcoming election with 34.2% believing that the NPC elections will be free and fair and while24% say they may be free and fair. Almost 34% of respondents believe that the TNA will win the elections while 21.7% believe it will be the UPF.-

Nowhere in the report is there a trend indicating a readiness or a willingness among the Tamil people to get involved in issues that would lead to another conflagration. In short, the overall picture painted in the CPA pre-poll survey is not that gloomy as stated in the anti-Sri Lankan propaganda machines. The CPA polls confirm the popular belief that TNA will win enough seats to gain control of the Northern Provincial Council. The 22% voting ‚ for the UPFA also confirms that the TNA has lost it claims ‚ to be -the sole representative of the Tamil people-.

Besides, the TNA, like their Federal Party and TULF predecessors, are playing the usual dodgy game in this election. Their hidden agenda (and also their ultimate‚  objective) is‚  to go along with separatism -” partly because of the political legacy inherited from the Vadukoddai Resolution and partly as an electoral card to win as many votes as‚  possible. At the same time they can-â„¢t go as far as they want to because‚  (1) of international pressure which refuses to endorse separatism and (2) the legal constraints arising from any separatist moves that would go against the Constitution. Besides, their own manifesto states that they will operate within sovereign state of Sri Lanka. Does anyone know where TNA stands right now?

The TNA is trapped inside a vicious triangle. It has to appease (1) the Tamil Diaspora pressuring for ruthless extremism, (2) the international community trying to use them as their tool to pursue their agenda, and (3) the Tamil people of the north who are more‚  concerned about‚  economics‚  than about politics. The intense pressures on the
TNA come from the Tamil Diaspora. This mob is most racist, exploitative and power-crazy extremists living in cuckoo-land. They plan to use the TNA and the Tamil people as their twin monkeys to pull the Diasporic chestnuts out of the fire. They want TNA to win not‚  to serve the war-weary Tamil people but to destroy the Provincial Council for them to re-launch the failed‚  militarism of Prabhakaran.

The following paragraph outlines the agenda drawn up for TNA by TGTE :‚  –¦. the TNA should make the decision now itself that a likely failure of the Provincial Council system could be used to propel our freedom struggle to the next level. They should take up the lessons of being part of the PC, to make it known to the world that a solution to the Tamil National Question could not be reached within the State structure of Sri Lanka. We should harness the mass support in our homeland, the Diaspora, the Tamil Nadu and in the many countries where Tamils live throughout the world, and re-launch political and diplomatic struggles, joining hands with friendly forces throughout the world who believe in justice. History has this expectation from us. We believe the TNA will give weight to this call on behalf of history. -ËœThe Thirst of Tamils is the Freedom of Tamil Eelam-â„¢ - (-ËœNPC Elections: What is to be Done-â„¢, Colombo Telegraph Sept 17, 2013)

The CPA poll indicate that the Tamil people of the north are the least concerned about the TGTE agenda. But the TNA, despite nominal requests for the Diaspora to keep off TNA-â„¢s grass, shows all signs of wanting to have the cake and also eat it. They are also divided on political and‚  personal rivalries. There is a strong‚  possibility of TNA cracking up under pressures‚  of running the Provincial Council. One wing says that they will operate within the Constitutional framework of Sri Lanka. The other wing hails Prabhakaran as their -hero-. C. V. Wigneswaram, the nominee for the Chief Ministerial post, seems to be having one foot in both camps.

The victory of TNA will not mean that the Northern Tamils have at last found the leadership they need. Nor do the overall trends outlined in the CPA report and the internal political divisions augur well for the hegemonic claims of TNA. On the contrary, it can exacerbate the existing confusion and leave the Jaffna people without a viable leadership -” a chronic disease of peninsular politics. If‚  the CPA pre-poll figures are confirmed on Sunday morning and if the TNA emerges as just another political party, with around fifty to sixty per cent‚  of the‚  votes, then Wigneswaram, the Chief Minister, can be expected to add Prabhakaran to his pantheon he worships daily, offering to sacrifice more Tamil children‚  from the North, knowing that his children are safe in the arms of the Sinhalese in the‚  south.

14 Responses to “Polls predict pyrrhic victory for TNA”

  1. Ananda-USA Says:

    September 21, 2013 will be a DAY OF INFAMY, comparable to that infamous day of March 14, 1815, when a junta of treacherous gullible Kandyan chiefs of Sri Lanka handed over Sri Lanka’s Sceptered Crown to the Perfidious Albion!

    On September 21, 2013, the very same UPFA GOSL, that WAGED and WON a WAR of National Liberation and Reunification of Sri Lanka ,will ABJECTLY CAPITULATE and hand over in PEACE control of Sri Lanka’s Northern Province to the political PROXY of the defeated Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. This capitulation to the LTTE, militarily crushed in battle at great cost in blood and treasure, to comply with a Constitutional Amendment RAMMED DOWN Sri Lanka’s protesting throat by India … the very power responsible for inciting and fostering Tamil terrorism in Sri Lanka while militarily occupying a large part of Sri Lanka … boggles my mind.

    On September 21, 2013 the Tiger Nominated Agents of the TNA will take control of the Northern Province and begin its incremental campaign to create the Separatist State of Eelam, that will inexorably seek UNION with Tamil Nadu in India.

    On September 21, 2013, this DAY OF INFAMY, this unbelievable TURN OF EVENTS, will spawn Eelam War V, because the PATRIOTS of Sri Lanka will NEVER ACCEPT the Division of Sri Lanka into a patchwork quilt of Communal States.

    Those leaders of Sri Lanka who stood by and allowed this tragedy to occur will be Swept Away and Consumed in the ensuing maelstrom, for they who seed the wind shall reap the whirlwind!

    It is NOT the SURVIVAL of LEADERS that is at stake here, but the SURVIVAL of the NATION & ALL of its PEOPLE.

    RISE … O Patriots of Lanka .. to DEFEND & PROTECT the INTEGRITY of your Motherland!

  2. Ananda-USA Says:

    TNA win in polls won’t help us: Minorities

    ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

    Sept 20 (NIE) Muslims and Sinhalese, who are the minorities in Sri Lanka’s Tamil-dominated Northern Province, view with some trepidation the prospect of a Tamil National Alliance (TNA) victory in the September 21 elections to the Northern Provincial Council (NPC).

    Mowlavi Abdul Samad of Pattaanichur said that Tamil politicians might not help the Muslims, and Tamil officers might not attend to matters relating to the Muslims.

    “My assessment is based on our experience. We have always had to turn to Muslim leaders like central minister Rishad Bathiudeen to get our work done. Further, the TNA has taken up only Tamil issues though it claims to represent all the Tamil-speaking people who include the Muslims. In Vavuniya district, which has a large Muslim population,it has not put up a single Muslim candidate,” Abdul Samad told Express on Wednesday.

    “The Muslims of Pattaanichur have given land to the Tamils to build a Kali temple, but the Tamils have been agitating against the Muslims’ bid to construct a cultural centre on their own land. The leader of the Tamils on this issue is Rathan, a TNA man,” Samad said.

    He fears that if the TNA succeeds in its efforts to secure for the NPC rights over land and the police, it will misuse these powers against the Muslims.

    Sinhalese View

    Venerable Muva Attagama Ananda Thera, chief priest of the Sri Dalada Viharaya at Madukanda, said that the minority Sinhalese and Muslims in the Tamil-dominated Vavuniya district had always been subservient to the Tamils. He felt that a provincial council under the TNA would only sharpen the ethnic division.

    “I am totally opposed to the it, which has increased the administrative and financial burden by creating parallel structures. Earlier, the same work was done efficiently by a district minister and a few officials. The provincial councils have created new divisions and conflicts,” he said.

    However, the monk did not rule out the possibility of the TNA behaving sensibly once vested with governmental power.

  3. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha Says:

    To make my comment short and sweet it is normal for any minority to adhere to the culture of the majority and nations who have strayed from that concept have faced the specter of “self determination” as stated by President Woodrow Wilson during the Versailles Treaty at the end of World War 2.

    Every nation under the pressure of Secularist left wing thought who have placed the desires of the minority above that of the majority ultimately end up with all kinds of social problems. Europe is a classic case of this symptom where politically correct words such as “multiculturalism” has been used to mollycoddle the interest of the minority over that of the majority. Now Europe is waking up to the reality of the disastrous social experiment called “multiculturalism” and conservative right wing nationalist parties across Europe are winning over the Socialist left and “multiculturalism” is now a bad word among the growing right wing nationalists in Europe wing parties. Germany is the latest and a game changer. Being the most powerful economy in the Eurozone if the right wing nationalist party wins on the platform of pulling out of the Eurozone it will end the Eurozone if Germany exists this party of Socialist politically correct European nations. England is a prime example where London is a collection of minorities with the native British fleeing that city. Latest numbers indicate 650 thousand native British have fled London or a population equal to the British city of Gloucester. The same experiment pushed down Sri Lanka’s throat is a complete failure in those European nations.

    Same goes for the US where the rights of the minority take precedence over that of the majority that has resulted in the destruction of the traditional values of this nation and has been replaced by a virulent strain of “Black racism” where “hate the whitey” philosophy is promoted by the Media. People like Farrakhan, Reverend Wright to Al Sharpton openly proclaim extremely racist remarks against the majority White population and are given full support by the media and the government. But no White person can do the same without receiving condemnation and even a law suit. This once elegant society is now a society driven by the ideals of the “Black Ghetto culture”. These nations screaming “human rights violations” are demanding the majority Sinhalese Buddhist population of Sri Lanka put the rights and desires of the minority over and above the rights and desires of the majority. As a matter of fact the suffering of the majority Sinhalese is not even mentioned. But the supposed suffering of the Tamils gets the clarion call from the UN to the Western nations to India to the UNHRC to the TNA.

    This could be summed up by what President Vladimir Putin stated in the Duma (parliament) on February 4, 2013

    “In Russia live Russians. Any minority, from anywhere, if it wants to live in Russia, to work and eat in Russia, should speak Russian, and should respect the Russian laws. If they prefer Shari ‘a Law, then we advise them to go to those places where that’s the state law. Russia does not need minorities. Minorities need Russia, and we will not grant them special privileges, or try to change our laws to fit their desires, no matter how loud they yell ‘discrimination’.
    We better learn from the suicides of America, England, Holland and France, if we are to survive as a nation. The Russian customs and traditions are not compatible with the lack of culture or the primitive ways of most minorities. When this honourable legislative body thinks of creating new laws, it should have in mind the national interest first, observing that the minorities are not Russians.

    “In Russia live Russians. Any minority, from anywhere, if it wants to live in Russia, to work and eat in Russia, should speak Russian, and should respect the Russian laws” That is the starting sentence. Sri Lanka is the oldest unbroken Buddhist nation in the world and by that the oldest unbroken Buddhist Sanga in the world and till the arrival of the Europeans minorities understood they were in a Buddhist nation and needed to adhere to the majority culture and not the other way around. Now a politically correct world is demanding the absurd and demanding a social experiment that failed in their own nations. It is time to go back to old time tested values by which Sri Lanka in pre European days was known across the ancient world. Time for the government and the Buddhist Sanga to place the desires and rights of the majority first over that of any and all minorities.

    Unless Sri Lanka puts the interests of the majority of the Sinhalese Buddhist front and center and demand from all minorities be they Christian, Hindu or Muslim that they need to adhere to the teachings of the Buddha first before they adhere to their own practices they will be marginalized. As long as Colombo continues to take instructions that minority rights supersede the majority rights the problem of a separate state will persist.

  4. Lorenzo Says:

    Fully agree with Ananda.

    Today will be the WORST DAY in SL history. Who was ruling SL at this time? MR! That is how history will judge him.

    People have to rise up using WHATEVER MEANS to save SL.

    The army is NOT going to save SL. They didn’t save SL from TNA. We badly need a NON STATE ACTOR to do so. Non state actors cannot commit war crimes.

  5. Lorenzo Says:

    “However, the monk did not rule out the possibility of the TNA behaving sensibly once vested with governmental power.”

    Wishful thinking by a FOOL.

    “TNA vested with government power”!!


  6. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha Says:

    No matter what happens in the northern and eastern provinces always keep in mind that the needs, aspirations and rights of the majority are greater than the needs, aspirations and rights of the minority. To date politically correct Secular ideology has placed the needs of the few over the needs of the many resulting in broken nations, many of whom have led to separatism, extremism and terrorism the three evils defined in the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization). This is elitism at its worst where the needs of a few supersede that of the many.

    We must go back to idea of the needs of the many is greater than the needs of the few for the majority determines the nation. Many would call this collectivism and maybe it is but even collectivism is useful if it contributes to keeping the nation’s integrity and destroys separatism.

  7. Charles Says:

    If postal voting is any indication to go by it is going to be indeed a pyrrhic victory to TNA

  8. Ananda-USA Says:

    Postal votes results in Northern Province

    ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

    Sept 21, Colombo: The Election Secretariat has started releasing results of the provincial council elections held Saturday for Northern ,Central and North Western provinces. The first result of the evening reported was the postal votes for Mullativu District.

    Mullaitivu ITAk- 646 (81.26%) UPFA – 146 (18.36%) UNP- 2 (0.25%)
    Kilinochchi ITAk- 756 (82.26%) UPFA – 160 (17.41%) UNP- 1 (0.11%)
    Vavuniya ITAk- 901 (66.94%) UPFA – 323 (24.00%) UNP- 65 (4.83%) SLMC- 24 (1.78%)
    Jaffna ITAk- 7625 (86.30%) UPFA – 1099 (12.44%) UNP- 35 (0.40%)

  9. Ananda-USA Says:

    First poll result in Sri Lanka PC elections: Mullaitivu postal votes over 80% for TNA

    ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

    Sept 21, Colombo: The Election Secretariat has started releasing results of the provincial council elections held Saturday for Northern ,Central and North Western provinces.

    The first result of the evening reported was the postal votes for Mullativu District and the main Tamil party Tamil national Alliance (TNA) has secured an overwhelming 81.25% while the ruling United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) received 18.36%.

    All other parties including major opposition United National Party (UNP) received less than 1% of votes.

  10. Ananda-USA Says:

    Greater Autonomy for Tamils in the Northern Province is the beginning of the disintegration of Sri Lanka into COMMUNAL Fiefdoms Permanently at war! What next? A separate Muslim State in the East?

    Sri Lanka has NEVER granted power on COMMUNAL BASES in the past; this is the BEGINNING of that TRANSFORMATION of Sri Lanka into a patchwork of COMMUNAL Bantustans! Will Visas be issued to enter the Northern Province as the LTTE did?

    Sri Lanka’s Tamils Vote on Greater Autonomy

    September 21, 2013

    JAFFNA, SRI LANKA — Voters in Sri Lanka thronged polling stations on Saturday in an election that threatens to rekindle animosity between the government and ethnic minority Tamils, four years after the military crushed separatists and ended a 26-year war.

    The provincial council election is the first in 25 years in the north, once the heartland of Tamil Tiger separatists.

    President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government held the poll after facing international pressure to restore democracy. Defeat for the government would be largely symbolic. But victory for the main Tamil party, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), could reignite calls for autonomy.

    Long queues of patient voters formed at polling stations, most with a holy ash mark on their foreheads, a sign they had attended prayers at Hindu temples.

    Many voters called for restitution of land, the departure of the national army, accused of human rights abuses in the final stages of the war, and some even for a separate state.

    Many were clearly keen to elect their own local leaders – 38 provincial councilors – for the first time in three decades. But some candidates complained of intimidation and irregularities.

    “Tamils need independence. We need our lands back. We need the right to move freely,” said Gopalasuthanthiran Pushpavathi, a 51-year mother of four, after voting at a polling station behind the imposing Nallur Temple.

    “I am happy that we have six votes in my family and we cast the votes with the hope of getting a separate province that is ruled by ourselves,” said Kandiah Thiyagarajah, 63.

    Polling closed at 1030 GMT and local election monitors said a vehicle of a TNA candidate was reported to have been shot at in Kodikamam, 25 km from Jaffna town.

    Plenty of complaints

    Election officials said they received “plenty of complaints”, including intimidation of voters.

    N. Achchuthan, the deputy election high commissioner for the northern province, told Reuters voter turnout was estimated at above 60 percent, or more than double the 23.3 percent of the last parliamentary election, held in April 2010.

    Turnout in the other four districts including the Tamil Tiger rebels’ de facto capital, Kilinochchi, has been more than 60 percent.

    The Center for Monitoring Election Violations (CMEV) said the house of a TNA polling agent was burnt and some voters were intimidated in Mullaitivu district, where thousands of Tamil people were said to have killed in May 2009.

    “Specific incidents where voters have been intimidated, allegedly by ruling party politicians and the military, have resulted in fear among voters in these locations,” the Center said.

    The military rejects any suggestion of involvement by the security forces in violence of any sort.

    A foreign observer said polling went off well in polling centers in Jaffna.

    “But there have been many cases of intimidation reported outside the polling centers,” the observer told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

    Many expect an overwhelming victory for the TNA, the former political proxy of the defeated rebels, who launched the war for a separate state to end what Tamil activists saw as systematic discrimination by Sri Lanka’s Sinhalese majority.

    Rajapaksa has a majority of more than two-thirds in parliament and controls the eight other provinces. He appears determined to win in the north, where campaign posters for the ruling coalition plastered the walls.

    The president has faced international pressure to bring to book those accused of war crimes committed at the end of the war, and to boost reconciliation efforts.

    His government has rejected accusations of rights abuses and Rajapaksa in July ordered an inquiry into mass disappearances, mostly of Tamils, at the end of the war.

  11. Ananda-USA Says:

    The VULTURES are GATHERING! Even before the VOTES ARE COUNTED in the PC Election, Foreign Powers and NGOs are jockeying to EXPLOIT the Tamil Dominated Northern PC and Balkanize Sri Lanka to fit their AGENDA!

    President Mahinda Rajapaksa …. Please don’t say we didn’t warn you of what is in store for Sri Lanka in the future if the 13th Amendment is NOT REVOKED!

    What are you going to do, now that we have dug ourselves a deeper pit to remain trapped in with the Northern PC Election? What?

    US, India should try to keep Lanka away from China’s sway

    September 21, 2013 12:43 IST

    Since the US and India broadly share similar interests in Sri Lanka, they should coordinate closely to ensure that the country preserves its democratic institutions, says Lisa Curtis
    Click here!

    On Saturday, for the first time in 25 years, Sri Lanka held elections to its Northern Provincial Council, a step that could facilitate reconciliation between the country’s majority (mostly Buddhist) Sinhalese and minority (mostly Hindu) Tamil populations.

    The election, if deemed free and fair, will mark the most significant step the Sri Lankan government has taken since the end of the civil war four years ago to address grievances of the Tamil community.

    While there are still concerns about the government’s handling of the final days of the civil war and other steps it has taken to stifle democracy in the country, the United States. should use the elections to increase engagement with the government of President Mahinda Rajapakse and put the US–Sri Lanka relationship on more solid footing.

    Possible Path for Devolution of Power

    Civil war broke out in 1983 between the Sri Lankan government and Tamil groups calling for an independent state. The US designated the leading rebel group, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, as a terrorist organisation because of its ruthless tactics that included suicide bombings, assassinations, and use of child soldiers.

    A 1987 agreement brokered with the assistance of the Indian government (called the Indo–Lankan Accords) resulted in the 13th amendment, which provided a degree of autonomy for the Tamil-dominated Northern and Eastern provinces of the country.

    Elections were held in a merged North-Eastern province in 1988 and brought to power Tamil leader Varadaraja Perumal, who subsequently declared independence for the province. This prompted the central government to dissolve the council and bring the province under its direct control.

    In 2007 the Sri Lankan Supreme Court ruled that the province should be demerged. The government subsequently allowed elections to be held in the Eastern Province in 2008.

    The Tamil National Alliance — a political party that formerly supported a separatist agenda but now campaigns on upholding Tamils’ rights within a federal unified state — is expected to win the elections in the Northern Province by a significant margin.

    Even so, there remain questions about the degree of power the council will have over affairs in the region. There is already a presidentially appointed governor that will continue to wield the most control. The army has also retained significant forces in the region.

    The TNA has been pushing for increased powers for the council, including responsibility for land and police issues. But the international community is worried that once elections have occurred, the government may try to roll back the 13th amendment, thus denuding the council.

    Indian National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon, during a recent trip to Sri Lanka, reportedly warned the Rajapkase government against changing the 13th amendment, saying it would be a violation of the Indo–Lankan Accords.

    Downward Trend in US-Sri Lanka Relations

    Relations between the U.S. and Sri Lanka have been severely strained over the last four-and-a-half years mainly because of concerns about massive civilian casualties in 2009 resulting from clashes between government forces and the LTTE.

    In March the US spearheaded the second United Nations Human Rights Council resolution, calling attention to alleged human rights abuses and indiscriminate killings of Tamil civilians by Sri Lankan forces. The resolution also raised concerns about reports of forced disappearances, torture, and intimidation of journalists and human rights activists.

    The US is concerned that Rajapakse’s effort to capitalise on the government’s victory against the LTTE and consolidate his power base is weakening Sri Lanka’s democratic institutions. Rajapakse has removed term limits on the executive and weakened the independence of the judiciary by impeaching the previous chief justice in January.

    Moreover, dozens of journalists have fled the country in recent years, citing government intimidation, and Amnesty International says at least 15 journalists have been killed since 2006.

    Use Elections to Rebuild Ties

    So long as Saturday’s elections are deemed free and fair, the US should note this positive development and encourage the government to build on this stepping stone to national reconciliation following the decades of bloodshed. More specifically, the US should:

    Praise the Sri Lankan government for holding the election, but make it clear that any effort to reduce the powers of the council, once elected, would be unacceptable.

    Given the authoritarian tendencies of the Rajapakse government and its past efforts to centralise power, it would not be surprising if the Sri Lankan leader tried to negate the impact of the election by seeking changes to the 13th amendment. Washington, with support from the international community (especially the Commonwealth nations that are scheduled to meet in Sri Lanka in November), should hold Rajapakse’s feet to the fire on this issue.

    Use positive momentum from the election to increase engagement with the Sri Lankan government on other bilateral issues, including trade and business cooperation and maritime issues. Given the downward trend in Washington’s relations with Colombo, Sri Lanka has increasingly turned toward the Chinese for economic and other assistance.

    China has become Sri Lanka’s largest donor; has provided fighter jets, weapons, and radars to the Sri Lankan military; and made a billion-dollar investment to develop the southern port at Hambantota. Despite frustration with the Rajapakse government, there are sound reasons to remain engaged with the country, particularly to avoid it becoming overly dependent on China.

    Coordinate policies closely with India, which has a 70-million-strong Tamil population of its own and a vested interest in seeing a successful reconciliation process. The Indian state of Tamil Nadu is one of the country’s most economically vibrant states, and its political leaders play an important role in national politics. The Indian government also wants to stay engaged with Sri Lanka because of the China factor.

    Since the US and India broadly share similar interests in Sri Lanka, they should coordinate closely to ensure that the country preserves its democratic institutions and does not fall increasingly under the sway of the Chinese.

    Remain Engaged

    There are increasing geo-strategic reasons to care about Sri Lanka, particularly because the island nation is strategically located in the Indian Ocean and is increasingly being wooed by China. The US should use the occasion of the historic elections in the Northern Province to foster goodwill with the government and encourage it to build a national consensus on reconciliation.

    Article Courtesy: The Heritage Foundation

    Lisa Curtis is Senior Research Fellow for South Asia in the Asian Studies Centre at The Heritage Foundation.

  12. Lorenzo Says:

    From results released so far TNA is heading for the BIGGEST VICTORY ever recorded by ANY party in SL.

    This shows how DAMN RACIST Tamils are!!

    UPFA will win Kites thanks to EPDP power base there. That will reduce the TNA percentage but only a little bit.

  13. Lorenzo Says:

    Even in Kites TNA had won. Now even the low caste Tamils vote for TNA.

    This is going to be ugly. Now the international community will trumpet TAMIL SELF DETERMINATION claims.

    The ONLY way to stop it is by resurrecting a Tamil terrorist group who would say outright Tamil Elam or death.

    The question now is either the DEATH of the nation or the death of the separatist-terrorists. That is the ONLY choice facing SL.

  14. Sunil Mahattaya Says:

    What a laugh!
    If Sri Lankans have trepidations about the TNA ~ once an open front for the LTTE, winning the Northern Provincial Council their fears should be allayed as this is not a National election victory! The Northern Province is but a miniscule segment of the nation’s periphery still under the control of the GOSL. It could hypothetically be viewed as rope for the TNA and their misguided Tamil supporter to chew on regardless of how the US, UK, EU or any other Western Power wants to interpret it. The TNA win should be interpreted as a means for the SL Administration to overview the real direction of the TNA where any indications or moves towards secession should be pounced upon and by the majority powers vested in the Government through the overall mandate of the Sinhala Nation crushed inasmuch as it did the Tamil Tigers. This will in all probabilities be the eventuality as the TNA has no other course in their agenda other than to re-initiate the so called Tamil struggle which in simpler terms points to none other than secession.How the Government manoeuvres through this needs careful deliberation and at no stage should it bow down to the whims and fancies of those who imagine that the TNA has won a victory that grants them the contro; they need towards their Nation disrupting shenanigans! None of this would have happened had the Government taken the legal move to debar them from participating in active politics on the basis that they have been found tangibly to be none other than a front for the Tamil Tigers which the TNA could never deny ! It is a culpability the Government seems to have overlooked and heaven knows why!

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