[TNA leaders with Rajapaksa after the budget speech, Oct, 2014]
Sri Lanka’s major Tamil political party, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) is likely to support the common opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena and its decision will be made public tomorrow at a press conference in Colombo, sources said.
“The Tamils have faced the worse and continue to face the same in the hands of President Rajapaksa and his family rule. It will be suicidal if we allow this regime to continue. Otherwise, immense sufferings of our war-affected people will prolong for another eight years without a break,” a Tamil party source told Colombo Mirror Monday morning via phone.
Asked whether the TNA has been given any electoral assurances in return for supporting Maithripala Sirisena such as returning the lands grabbed by the military, scaling down of military presence in the north and east or supporting the ongoing international war crime probe, he said “nothing of that sort has been guaranteed”.
“We are not very comfortable with the common opposition too, but our people desperately need a break and we feel that an breathing space will be made available only if this President is ousted. For this to happen we have no option but to support Maithripala,” the source said on condition of anonymity in a bid to justify the party’s stand at the January 8 poll.
He said like other Tamil parties, the TNA cannot irresponsibly allow the people to take their own decision at a time of a political crisis like this.
“We need to do politics and do it correctly by giving political guidance to our people,” he said, however, confirming that the party leadership has already taken a decision and forcing the coalition parties of the TNA to accept it.
Source, however, did not deny the possibilities of things getting worse for the Tamils considering the combinations of the common opposition parties.
“It’s only with the hope that we take political decisions. We hope for the best this time too,” he said.
The powerful Tamil Civil Society Forum (TCSF) last week said both President Mahinda Rajapaksa and common opposition candidate Maithiripala Sirisena “have taken positions contrary to Tamil interests”, and therefore, explicitly calling for “a vote for either of the main candidate will be tantamount to accepting a unitary constitution and to rejecting international investigations”.
The TCSF, which is an independent organisation formed by Tamil academics, clergymen and human rights activists, said in a statement that both the main candidates have placed “the Sinhalese at the centre of these elections and have made these elections as being material only to their future well-being” while ignoring issues that affect the Tamil people.
Stressing that the Tamil people “do not have to take a collective stance at the forthcoming elections,” it said that the denial of democracy currently being experienced by the majority Sinhalese community “is a cumulative impact of the anti-Tamil politics of successive Sinhala Governments”.
“The denial of democracy that they suffer now is result of them being bystanders/endorsing the anti-Tamil agenda of successive Governments. In our opinion the only sustainable path to democratization lies in the creation of a popular discourse that is created by taking a just stand on the National Question. There are no other alternative or by-roads to democratization. The Sinhalese people and their leaders must realize this,” it said.