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Tamil victory may reignite separatism

The resounding victory of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), by a two-third majority, in the Northern Province Council in Sri Lanka, once the heartland of the Tamil Tiger movement, could very well be a double-edged sword for the ethnic minority community as well as the government. While the Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa held the polls, first in 25 years, after growing international pressure in the wake of revelations of possible crime against humanity committed by the state army during the bitter crackdown on the LTTE,  the landslide victory of the TNA, winning 30 out of 38 seats (28 direct and 2 bonus), in the Tamil-majority province might reignite separatist passions and rekindle calls for autnomy of the region. This is a particularly sensitive issue, given the violent and protracted history of the LTTE struggle and the equally bloody repression of the movement by the armed forces.

Although, the electoral victory would fortify legislative strength and Tamil representation in the Sri Lankan political sphere, both the government and the minority community need to exercise caution in the days ahead. The symbolic defeat of the Rajapaksa government in the Northern Province notwithstanding, the situation on the ground in the region is too delicate for any reckless step
on the part of either parties. The way ahead is careful negotiation to pave away for systematic redistribution of confiscated land to the Tamils, phased withdrawal of the army as well as ensuring justice for the victims and perpetrators of human rights abuse in the last few years of the civil war. While the election, despite many hurdles, has been a success, its effect needs to be translated into real action.    

MPost

MPost

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