Sri Lankan President to consolidate his power has called for a snap election likely to be held on April 25 and dissolved parliament that had completed 4 1/2 of its five-year tenure. Though the President has the backing of the majority Sinhala-Buddhist population, he wants 2/3 majority in parliament so that he could provide holistic rule to include the Tamil speaking minorities, who for known reasons did not vote for him in the polls.
Earlier from the outset of independence in 1948; it was the United National Party (UNP) that is now in rags, who instigated anti-Tamil discrimination, to divide and suppress both the economic and ethnic minorities to provoke a civil-war. Thus the UNP government’s decades-long war against the Tamil separatist movement was not only focused on keeping the North and East under its control, but at defending the majority dominated rule in Sri Lanka, by promoting communalism to divide and suppress the economic and ethnic minorities.
Alternative rule by Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), starting from the fifties did not differ much, as they too advocated majority dominated rule. While, many friendly nations considered the resulting campaign from the Tamil separatists as a barrier to their geo-strategic interests in South Asia, destabilising the strategically located island country. Thus, it was an SLFP government with much help from these friendly nations in 2009, silenced the guns of the separatists to bring the bloody cruel civil-war to finish; absence of war was proceeded with a decade of negative peace to 2019.
It was this refusal by successive governments’ to address legitimate grievances of the minorities that increased ethnic tensions to damage the prospects for lasting peace; as its administrations refused to honour agreements, broken promises to world leaders and never implemented fully the constitutional provisions for minimal devolution of power to the north and east considered as Tamil-speaking areas. Instead, militarisation and discriminatory economic development in these areas increased pressure on moderate Tamil speaking communities to always support the opposition.
Whereas, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) as the leading political representatives of the Tamils is an alliance of the Tamil political parties in the Illankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi (ITAK), Tamil Eelam Liberation Organisation (TELO) and People’s Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE) is led by a veteran democratic politician, who remained patient and kept TNA on its moderate course, while reaching out to solve issues of their people; this was opposed by fragmented other Tamil political parties in north and east provinces. As such TNA is seeking to retain its large number of opposition benches they hold at present and if possible increase it from the forthcoming general election. The sole aim of TNA is to be the largest alliance of minority political parties in parliament to put pressure on the government to find a political solution to the ethnic question. There is no doubt TNA still relies heavily on the votes of the majority of Tamil voters in the North and East provinces, at the general election. Thereafter, the TNA is expected to work from opposition with the government to be formed by the President to resolve all issues and devolve powers to govern merged north and east provinces as per the 13th Amendment.
Whereas, the president is the country’s first “non-politician” to be Head of State is known for his authoritarian tendencies; has taken the responsibility to provide a holistic rule for the country by solving issues of all communities, that includes the issues of the Tamil speaking community represented in parliament by TNA. As UNHRC has raised resolutions against Sri Lanka, based on a report that finds atrocities committed in the final weeks of the civil-war and beyond, where thousands of Tamil civilians were killed and hundreds of youth, who surrendered to the Sri Lankan army reported missing. The President has however notified to UNHRC, an off shoot of UN; that his government will resolve all such issues referred to in the resolutions raised by it on Sri Lanka.
In the meantime, prosecution of the war that dragged on for three decades with all the atrocities referred to above, has got the country neck-deep in debt and today country’s income was insufficient to service the debt. The President after coming to power, in preparation for his authoritarian forms of rule has said would establish a strong government and quickly appointed senior military figures to key government posts. But for a massive investment that is needed and development with export-oriented production, the government must overcome all the present crisis; and the economic miracle could happen if the President, is able to first bring about a holistic rule, by resolving issues of the minority communities. Consequently, the government is obliged to commence serious negotiations with TNA as the main elected Tamil representatives and other representatives of Tamil speaking people from the north and east.
Already, government had promised Indian leaders that it would give increased powers to the provincial councils and to the major powers that the government was ready for reconciliation and power-sharing with the Tamil communities. Thus TNA would support President and his forthcoming government to honour commitments made to India in the Indo-Lanka Accord and to the international communities sponsoring the UNHRC Resolutions. For TNA is seeking to end the ethnic problem and issues from the war of the Tamil speaking people resolved to enable them to join force with the rest to law makers to build a prosperous nation for all communities to live as equal citizens. To this end TNA is expected to fill its list of candidates with new quality members for the Tamils living in North and East provinces to vote back to parliament a full strength TNA candidates as its representatives.