Tamil Tigers Get a Boost in Srilanka Elections - Asia Times.
A recent article published in Asia Times Online , states that Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam or shortly Tamil Tigers / LTTE , states that recent local body elections at Tamil cities of Jaffna and Vavuniya - Tamil Tigers got a boost in the ballot box. Further it said
BANGALORE - A bit of good news has finally arrived for the badly battered Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Three months after it suffered military defeat at the hands of the Sri Lankan armed forces, a party regarded as its mouthpiece in parliament and beyond has defeated President Mahinda Rajapakse's United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) in the first elections to be held in post-war Sri Lanka.
Elections to the 11-member Vavuniya municipal council on Saturday saw the pro-LTTE Tamil National Alliance (TNA) emerge the largest party with five seats. The UPFA finished third winning just two.
To be sure, the TNA's victory came in a small, local election. Still, given the desperate situation in which the LTTE finds itself today, even this win will come as a shot in the arm.
The past few months have seen the LTTE hit by a series of devastating blows. Its battlefield defeat in May was accompanied by the elimination of its entire top brass, including chief Velupillai Prabhakaran. Last week, its new chief, Selvarasa Pathmanathan, was arrested in Southeast Asia and handed over to the Sri Lankan government.
It is widely believed that Pathmanathan's arrest came on information provided by his rivals within the organization, laying bare the severe infighting that has gripped the overseas Tigers.
In the voting for the 23-seat Jaffna urban council, the TNA emerged second with eight seats. The UPFA with 13 seats has taken control of the council. The UPFA was expected to win both councils. The TNA win in Vavuniya is an upset. At a time when little is going right for the LTTE, the electoral win posted by its proxies will bring some cheer.
Both Vavuniya and Jaffna are located in the Tamil-dominated Northern Province. Once an LTTE stronghold, Jaffna has remained under government control since it fell to the armed forces in December 1995. Vavuniya has been a second home to hundreds of thousands of Tamils displaced in the 25-year long civil war. The displaced have come in several waves, the most recent being those who fled the fighting in the final stages of the war between the army and the LTTE.
Local council elections generally do not evoke international or even national interest. This was not the case with the elections to the Jaffna and Vavuniya councils as they - together with the election to the southern Uva Provincial Council, which was held on the same day - were the first chance for voters to post their ballots since the fall of the Tigers.
The Jaffna and Vavuniya elections are seen an important indicator of the mood among the Tamil people in the north. Would their perception of the government be colored by unhappiness with the government's conduct of military operations in the horrific final stages of the war and the hundreds of thousands of displaced people languishing in fenced camps? Or are they looking to the government with hopes of a better future?
Some have interpreted the ruling UPFA's strong showing in Jaffna as a sign that the Tamils are endorsing Rajapakse's approach to the conflict in Sri Lanka.
This interpretation overlooks the poor voter turnout, especially in Jaffna. While voter turnout in Vavuniya was an average 49%, in Jaffna it was just 18%. Although the UPFA won 50% of the vote in Jaffna, it amounts to little given the poor voter turnout.
Furthermore, a vote for the UPFA in Jaffna was not so much an endorsement of Rajapakse as it was a vote for the Eelam People's Democratic Party (EPDP), a Tamil party.
Led by Douglas Devananda, a militant-turned-politician, the EPDP has been part of successive ruling coalitions in Colombo since the early 1990s. Devananda has been a bitter foe of the LTTE for over two decades and his cadres have fought the LTTE alongside the government forces. A cabinet minister in the present government, Devananda fully backed Rajapakse's military operations against the LTTE.
Yet in the run-up to the local body elections, Devananda and the EPDP were keen to contest on their own. They were anxious to distance themselves from Rajapakse. It was only under pressure that the EPDP contested under the UPFA umbrella.
Rajapakse's decision to hold an election in Jaffna and Vavuniya barely three months after the end of the war was under fire. Critics argued that settling the displaced should have been his priority at this juncture. It is alleged that elections to local bodies in Jaffna and Vavuniya were held in order to signal to the world the return of "normalcy" to Tamil areas and to showcase Rajapakse's commitment to democracy.
The election was a crucial litmus test for the TNA. This was the first time it was in an election fray without the solid support of the LTTE. In the 2001 and 2004 general elections, the TNA contested and won easily. It was widely believed that the LTTE was the architect of its victory, having vetted the TNA's list of candidates and then endorsing them in public.
The TNA's election victories were generally attributed to the LTTE's backing and its intimidation of voters. With the LTTE vanquished, would the TNA be able to pull off a win? Would people opt to vote for the TNA in a free and fair poll?
The TNA's performance indicates that it continues to enjoy some support among the Tamil people. While its runner up position in the race to the Jaffna council is a blow to the party and the LTTE, overall its performance has exceeded expectations.
It is believed that the government is replicating the strategy it adopted earlier in Eastern Province in the north. Following its eviction of the LTTE from the its last strongholds in the east in 2007, the government held elections to local bodies and followed that up with polls to the Eastern Provincial Council. In the east, it teamed up with the Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Puligal (TMVP), the party founded by the LTTE's former eastern commander Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan, also known as "Colonel" Karuna, after he broke away from the LTTE in 2004.
Having completed the election to local bodies in Jaffna and Vavuniya, the government can be expected to now start moving onto elections to the Northern Provincial Council as well.
But the government would do well to bear in mind that elections by themselves do not normalize the situation in a war-ravaged region. Neither do elections alone mean democratization. Elections are perhaps the easiest step in the long road to normalization and it is this step that the government is energetically taking.
In the southern Uva province, the ruling UPFA swept to power winning 25 seats of 34. The United National Party, the UPFA's main opposition, secured seven seats while the Janata Vimukti Peramuna bagged one.
The UPFA is on a roll. It has won all provincial council elections held this year and with huge margins. It secured 69% of the vote in elections to the North-West Provincial Council, 60% to the Central Provincial Council, 68% to the Western Provincial Council and 72% in the just concluded election to the Uva Provincial Council.
It is likely to capitalize on this strong support among the Sinhalese. Support for Rajapakse and his ruling coalition has soared following the defeat of the LTTE and the end of the war. The coalition has never been more popular.
With the nod from the electorate in Uva and Jaffna, the UPFA can be expected to advance in general elections.
Hope this fair article helps to international community to know further deep about this conflict. This is about the issue of Genocide and not the issue of terrorism.
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CHENNAI, Tamil Nadu, India