Will Rajapaksa’s win assuage Tamils’ concerns?
Colombo: With voters in Thursday’s Sri Lanka elections heavily favouring Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the ruling coalition, observers here feel that little headway was expected in the period ahead over addressing the desire of the Tamil community to get back in the mainstream after decades of civil war.
According to executive director of the National Peace Council, Jehan Perera, in the first parliamentary vote since the defeat of the rebel Tamil Tigers, the Tamil community did not cast their lot with “hard-line nationalist candidates.”
“Rather, Tamils voters backed a party that once was seen as the proxy for the Tigers, but has since adopted a plank of autonomy within the Sri Lankan state. Voters did not follow a splinter group that has kept alive the demand for independence,” The Christian Science Monitor quoted Perera, as saying.
“The Tamils have voted in a way very pragmatically for those who are for accommodation with the government,” he added.
Meanwhile, Robert Blake, US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, believes that it is important for the administration of President Rajapaksa to reach out to the Tamils.
According to reports, the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) is expected to capture around 140 seats in the 225-seat legislature.
The figure falls short of a two-thirds supermajority, but the total could grow through coalition and party crossovers.
A victory will further strengthen Rajapaksa’s grip on power three months after he won a second term in January, beating former Army chief Sarath Fonseka.
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