At the General Election held on the 17th of August 2015, the United National Party (UNP) emerged as the party with the largest number of seats in Parliament. The United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) obtained the second largest number of seats. It has been announced that a National Government has been formed and that Members of Parliament who contested and were elected under both the UNP and the UPFA have accepted cabinet portfolios. Accordingly, both the UNP and the UPFA bear collective cabinet responsibility. As political parties in Parliament, they thus must publicly support all Governmental decisions made in Cabinet. This support includes voting with the Government when sitting in Parliament. There is thus no question whatsoever of the UPFA sitting in opposition in Parliament. Further, all Members of Parliament who contested and were elected under the UPFA are now Members of Parliament of the UPFA. There is thus no question whatsoever of the constituent parties of the UPFA being recognized as political parties in the current Parliament.
In these circumstances, the Ilankai Thamil Arasu Kadchi (ITAK) which obtained a total of 16 seats, has emerged as the largest political party in Opposition in Parliament. In accordance with Parliamentary practice and convention, the Parliamentary Group Leader of ITAK must thus be recognized as the Leader of the Opposition.
Both President Sirisena and the Government have been public in a commitment to treat the Tamil People as equal citizens of this country. However, a reluctance to recognize the democratically elected representatives of the Tamil People of the North and East as the main opposition party when such is clearly the case can only be reflective of an unwillingness to honour this commitment. A reluctance to even recognize the elected representatives of the Tamil People as the main party in Opposition does not bode well for the readiness of the President and the Government to arrive at a solution that grants meaningful powers of governance to the Tamil People.
At the Presidential and Parliamentary Elections this year, the peoples of this country created the space and opportunity for it to move forward.We urge both the President and the Government not to waste this opportunity. If they are committed to resolving the national problem, then their actions must reflect that. For our part, we are committed to constructively engaging with the Government to resolve the national problem in Sri Lanka.
Ilankai Thamil Arasu Kadchi (ITAK)
Tamil National Alliance (TNA)