Tamils re-affirm desire for self-rule
Tamil National Alliance (TNA), the party ran on the platform of self-determination won a key council in Sri Lanka. The government was expected to do well for the following reasons:
- The election was held too soon after the end of the war for people to vote and for democracy to be tested.
- The media was not allowed in, dashing hope of a transparent election.
- The TNA only allowed in just two weeks before the election for campaigning,
- The government has not given permission for Tamils in the internment camps to leave and return home.
- A large number of Tamil voters were missing, and/or were not provided with voter card.
- The government had promised to bring big development project, if they vote the government's party.
- The government also threatened to put more restrictions or not develop the area if they don't vote the government.
- Low voter turnout.
Certainly, normalcy in the battle-scarred north is a long way off: Nearly 300,000 Tamil civilians are being forcibly held by the government in camps near Jaffna and Vavuniya. Both towns are still surrounded by government checkpoints, and are largely inaccessible to nonresidents. Even residents can't leave without permission.
The military laid down tight security which required opposition candidates to get permission to visit the areas, while ruling party candidates moved about freely.
“The government doesn’t want the outside monitors, journalists or observers to have access to these people displaced by the conflict,” which critics describe as “concentration camps,” Jayasinghe says.
“When you say ‘we are having local elections’ it gives the impression that these are elections in which people who were recently displaced would be voting. In fact, none of them would be voting in these elections,”
Despite all this, the Tamil National Alliance, which supported the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) won the council. The TNA won most seats in (5 out of 11) seats in Vavunia, and came in close second in Jaffna council.
This clearly indicates the Tamils aspiration for self-rule remains.
The polls elected representatives to two councils on the edge of the area formerly controlled by the Tigers. The pro-rebel Tamil National Alliance won Vavuniya, taking 5 of 11 seats. In Jaffna, the government's United People's Freedom Alliance won 13 of 23 seats, though the Tamil National Alliance came in a close second.
The government's party was expected to do well in the north largely because it had promised to bring big development projects to the battle-scarred area.
The election in Uva Province, in the south, voted in favour of the government's party indicating that Sinhalese majority cheer the war and its successes.
Elections were also held in Uva Province in the south of the island, where the government's party triumphed, indicating that Sinhalese majority cheer the war and its successes. The recent arrest of the Tiger's new leader will have further bolstered Mr. Rajapakse's popularity, say analysts.
Observers say some measure of autonomy for Tamils, who have suffered decades of discrimination by the Sinhalese majority, is necessary for stability in Sri Lanka.
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