By Mirudhula Thambiah
Leader of the Illankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi (ITAK) Party, Parliamentarian, Mavai Senathirajah said that the National Government should continue with the collaboration of the UNP and SLFP, for Tamil people to obtain a long lasting political solution.
“We are considering to urge the UNP and SLFP to continuously work together as a National Government. Our main concern is that the leadership of the UNP and President Maithripala Sirisena should stand united and function collaboratively as a National Government, although Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe does not resign from office,” he said.
Following are excerpts:
What are your observations over the no-confidence motion proposed against Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe?
A: This is a very serious matter. We are very carefully tackling this No-Confidence Motion, considering the future repercussions. In a situation, if the National Government is destabilized or if Prime Minister Wickremesinghe had to lose his post during this No-Confidence Motion, we must first consider if the National Government will stay united.
We also have to discuss about a situation where Prime Minister Wickremesinghe resigns, following which the UNP and SLFP will function together as a National Government.
At the same time, all should consider that Tamil speaking people only decide upon the victory of President Maithripala Sirisena through their powerful votes. Therefore, when the President and Prime Minister formed the current government, they also gave the majority of power to the Tamil people as well.
Only if the National Government remains united, 2/3 majority can be obtained on the occasion of solving the issues of Tamil people and that is our wish. Therefore, we should mainly consider if the Prime Minister loses in this No-Confidence Motion, we also will lose the chances of gaining advantages in solving the issues.
We are in a position to discuss this matter with the President and Prime Minister to adopt a decision from the TNA’s side.
Sampanthan is currently in Colombo, and we believe he will take the necessary steps to initiate dialogues with the President and Prime Minister regarding this matter. Currently, we are in the process of forming the local councils in the North in the post Local Authority polls, thus we have to remain in these regions until now.
We must discuss and take a clear stand over the No-Confidence Motion at the TNA Parliamentary Group Meeting while considering how far the President and Prime Minister will answer our demands over the issues of the Tamil people by sustaining the National Government, following which we will be able to reach a decision today in the evening.
Therefore, we are very much dependant on the discussions that will take place with the President and Prime Minister. On the backdrop of this discussion, we will take a decision about the No-Confidence Motion.
If this No-Confidence Motion against the Prime Minister is adopted in Parliament on 4 April, how will it reflect over the aspirations of the Tamil people in obtaining a political solution?
A: We were able to predict many disadvantages if the No-Confidence Motion is passed against the Prime Minister. We were also able to point out that if another person becomes the leader of the UNP, the National Government led by the UNP and SLFP will continue.
If the Prime Minister resigns from the leadership of the UNP, the agreement to continue as a National Government will be reached, if not the No-Confidence Motion will be brought to the House and an uncertain situation can be witnessed.
Our main concern is that the leadership of the UNP and President Maithripala Sirisena should stand united and function collaboratively as a National Government, although Prime Minister Wickremesinghe does not resign from office.
We will be able to further decide observing the situation in Parliament regarding the No-Confidence Motion.
If Prime Minister Wickremesinghe attempts to solve the issues within his party and if the UNP and SLFP led by the President continue the National Government we will be able to demand that the issues of the Tamil People be solved, especially the grievances of PTA detainees and land issues.
We are also continuing to urge that the National Government should continue with the UNP and SLFP collaboration for the Tamil people to obtain a political solution.
Recently, you had dialogues with the Eelam People’s Democratic Party (EPDP) in forming local councils in the North. Does this mean your party will work with the EPDP in the future?
A: This is a Local Government Election. It is quite obvious we were not in a situation to secure a majority due to the new electoral system. If we take the Valikamam North Pradeshiya Sabha, our party secured 17 wards out of 21 wards and other parties secured as a whole more than 18 wards, in such a situation we are unable to obtain a majority to form the council.
But we are the single largest political party in the Northern Province as we managed to secure a 2/3 majority out of all local authorities. We have to try our best to form the councils from the mandate people gave us.
Therefore, currently, it is a Local Government Election and it is not an issue of being partners of the Central Government and forming a Cabinet. We have to take the responsibility to rebuild the war affected North-East, through the councils we secured in both provinces. Therefore, we invited all political parties to support any political party that has the majority in each council. The TNPF replied to us by stating that they wish to form the Nallur, Point Pedro, Chavakachcheri, and Vadamarachchi south-west councils. We re-invited all political parties because we wanted to form and take the responsibility to address people’s issues, following which all religious leaders and civil society members insisted that all parties should stay united in forming the councils. Thus, we initiated telephone dialogues with all political parties to form the councils.
Similarly the TELO, one of our constituents met the Leader of the EPDP, Douglas Devananda to discuss about forming councils. Yet, Devananda denied through the media that none of the TNA representatives met him. Therefore, we had to contact him on the telephone and had to confirm this.
We had no necessity to form the councils as coalitions, collaboratively or as partners. The EPDP secured a majority in the Delft and Kayts Councils. The TNPF had a majority in Point Pedro and Chavakachcheri. In the other 40 councils, the TNA secured a majority. Thus, we informed Devananda that all parties should support the party that had secured majorities in each council. According to our invitation they have supported us in some councils and in some councils they have obtained the support of other parties to form the Local Government.
Therefore, the campaign regarding us functioning as a coalition is not true. We shall not change this into a debate, but agree the truth that all parties have agreed to support “the party that has a majority in each council.”
At the same time, the Tamil National People’s Front (TNPF) had come forward to support the TNA in forming the Vavuniya North Pradeshiya Sabha. Tell us if both parties are on positive moves?
A: There were 12 members from the Sinhala representation and they wanted to form the council. They called other parties to collaborate with them. We were of the stand that if we join with other parties we can form the council. Therefore, the TNPF understood our approach and confirmed to collaboratively work with us in the council. If they had understood our approach in every council we would not have initiated with any other party.
We are ready to accept the support of the TNPF and rule the Vavuniya North Pradeshiya Sabha.
How do you assess the outcomes of the recently held United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) sessions in Geneva?
A: We have continuously ensured our role at the Geneva sessions since 2012 by initiating dialogues with the UNHRC representatives. From the time the Government of the United States initiated dialogues with the TNA in October 2011, we have been continuously participating and interacting with the UNHRC representatives until date.
Representatives of other countries, especially United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein have openly stated that Sri Lanka had failed to implement the recommendations mentioned in the 2015 resolution.
When the UNHRC representatives met us in Colombo we pointed out that it is very sad that the Sri Lankan Government had failed to implement the recommendations. Currently, our requests to pressurize the government to implement the recommendations have been considered by the UNHRC. We feel that the UNHRC had considered our requests and their recent reports at the council in Geneva had revealed it.
Our approach towards the UNHRC had led the council to suggest a mechanism to implement recommendations outside Sri Lanka if they fail to implement it within the country. Therefore, we welcome this move and it is quite evident that our role had always been positive at the UNHRC.
If the No-Confidence Motion against Prime Minister Wickremesinghe is adopted by Parliament, what would the TNA’s next step be?
A: This No-Confidence Motion will be defeated if the President and SLFP do not support it. We will consider the No-Confidence Motion based on how this will reflect on the aspirations of Tamil people and solve their issues.
If the No-Confidence Motion is defeated even after the SLFP supports the motion, Ranil Wickremesinghe will remain as Prime Minister.
This can even be a disadvantage to the National Government. This is a controversial situation creating a state of confusion among people, especially the Tamil people. Therefore, we will handle this matter carefully.