By Jehan Perera –
The TNA’s political manifesto for the forthcoming general elections, which was released last week, calls for a fresh mandate from Tamil people for a federal-based solution in the form of a merged Northern and Eastern province where Tamil speaking people live in majority numbers. It stated this could ensure a lasting peace in an undivided country in the future. This is consistent with the issues of community equality that have been uppermost in the Tamil polity from the early days of Independence and later from the three decades of war. In dealing with the past, the TNA has called for justice and truth over the thousands of missing persons including persons who surrendered to the military during the final phases of the war, the need to revive the Office of Missing Persons (OMP) and the Office of Reparations to provide answers and justice for the war -affected people.
During the heyday of the LTTE, the political demands of the Tamil polity which sought to realise the equality between the communities in constitutional form had the best chance of being realized through a negotiated political settlement. Through its military power on the ground the LTTE made up for what the Tamil polity lacked in terms of numbers as a national minority. It had bargaining power that came from achieving military parity. During the negotiations that took place during the period of war, the LTTE demanded parity of status at the negotiating table. There was a time when government agencies themselves began to create public awareness about the need for a federal or semi-federal arrangement that could bring an end to the war. There was recognition then, as there needs to be now, that any negotiated solution to the conflict had to be embedded in the constitution. A solution that is grounded in the constitution is needed so that it would not be subject to politically motivated changes following changes of government.