US surveys Tamil strongholds

by Shamindra Ferdinando

The US embassy is examining the ground situation in former LTTE Vanni bastion in the run-up to Jan. 8, 2015 presidential election.

Political Officer Sandeep Cross has met representatives of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) as well Puthukudirippu based senior UPFA coordinator Kanagaratnam.

Authoritative sources told The Island that Cross had met Opposition Leader of the Eastern Provincial Council Thandayudhapani (TNA) on Dec 22. There were several other meetings with Trincomalee based politicians.

First Secretary (Political) Michael Ervinhadn’t accompanied the Political Officer due to extreme bad weather conditions.

Sources said that the US Embassy had been seeking information directly from those based in the provinces in view of differences in the TNA as regards the presidential election. At recent discussions between Opposition presidential candidate Maithripala Sirisena’s Camp and the TNA, an influential section of the latter had pledged unconditional support to the former SLFP General Secretary, sources said.

Sources said that the US official had inquired about the TNA’s stand, relations between the ruling coalition and different political parties as well as Sri Lanka’s relationship with China.

In Mullaitivu, the embassy official met Northern Provincial Council member Raviharan at Kallapadu on Dec 23. Asked whether the visiting official had met government representatives, sources said that they weren’t aware of any other meeting than a brief discussion with UPFA coordinator Kanagaratnam at the party office on Dec 23. The embassy has inquired about polls violence as well as the UPFA official’s assessment as regards the upcoming poll.

Asked whether an embassy representaive had met TNA and UPFA officials, US embassy spokesperson Nicole Chulick said: “Embassy officials frequently meet with contacts from all parties in all parts of the island.”

_50729364_relatives-of-the-missingMeanwhile, the UK headquartered Global Tamil Forum (GTF) spokesman Suren Surendiran has urged Tamil electorate to exercise their franchise at the second post-war presidential poll carefully. The GTF official said that Tamils living in all parts of the country should participate in 2015 presidential poll.

Surendiran said: “Tamil people have a long history of voting based on principled considerations. The upcoming Presidential election is no different.”

“GTF is fully aware that in the post-independent Sri Lanka, Tamil people have continuously lost their rights under a flawed majoritarian electoral system.  Their desire to have a degree of control in the Tamil majority areas was never granted, despite repeated democratic expressions of their wishes through all available electoral means.”

“Nevertheless, from our perspective, whether Sri Lanka should continue in the same path or whether change should be taken at this juncture to stop and reverse this trajectory is the fundamental question facing the electorate.”

However, government sources pointed out that the TNA had acted at the behest of the LTTE at Nov. 2005 presidential poll and thrown its weight behind UNP led coalition backing former army commander Gen. Sarath Fonseka at the last presidential election in January 2010.