A new chapter

THE RESOUNDING victory of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), an outfit that had in the past been associated with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), in provincial elections in Sri Lanka, is a welcome development and should herald a new chapter in the nation’s once troubled northern region.

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Published: Mon 23 Sep 2013, 11:27 PM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 10:49 AM

The very fact that the elections were conducted in a fair and free manner is a sign that the situation is gradually returning to normalcy. Credit must go to all the leading players including President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government, the Army, the TNA and importantly, the Election Commission. C.N. Wigneswaran, who is likely to take over as chief minister of the northern province, and seen as a moderate, has asserted that his party — an amalgam of smaller outfits — is for an undivided Sri Lanka. “We are willing to work under a unitary state,” declared the former Supreme Court judge after his party’s victory was announced on Sunday. “We are not talking about a separate state.”

A Sri Lankan government minister also described the election outcome as “a victory for democracy.” The government has been under intense international pressure to ensure that the elections were held on schedule and conducted smoothly. It is also facing demands that those accused of war crimes, allegedly committed towards the end of the civil war that got over in 2009, be booked. The government, while rejecting the charges of human rights violation, recently ordered a probe into mass disappearances of Tamils towards the end of the war.

The UN Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay has been engaged in a battle of words with the Rajapaksa administration, accusing senior officials of waging a disinformation campaign against the international body.

Rajapaksa told the UN Human Rights panel chief that his compatriots believed the international organisation to be a biased institution and that the panel’s probe into alleged war crimes would be pre-judged. The provincial election results should help ease some of the pressures on the government, which is preparing to host the Commonwealth heads of government meet in November in Colombo.



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