Amid increasing controversy, former Supreme Court judge C.V Wigneswaran took an oath in front of Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapaksa, to officially take on the Chief Minister role in the Northern Province on Monday.
The swearing in ceremony at Temple Trees, Colombo, was attended by members from the ruling coalition, including paramiliatry leader Douglas Devananda and a few TNA members, including leader R Sampanthan. Sources suggest that only a few of the 15 members of the TNA that were expected to attend showed their presence, with many boycotting the event.
TNA candidate Ananthi Sasitharan, who polled over preferential 87,000 votes in the Jaffna District, refused to attend the ceremony, stating,
"People in the North voted against the Rajapaksa government. We have been urging the international community to take action against war crimes of his government.
It (taking oath in front of Rajapaksa) is a betrayal of the people who voted for TNA".
Speaking at the ceremony, Wigneswaran had stated,
"My office is a gift from my people. They have mandated me to perform my duties on a long-term as well as a short-term perspective".
The decision to be sworn in by Rajapaksa prompted much discontent amongst the north-east electorate, with Jaffna based newspaper Uthayan devoting its front page to the issue, headlining one article “Disregarding the people’s wishes, oaths before the President” and another feature titled "Is this what we voted for?".
Earlier this week, the Tamil Lawyers Forum slammed the decision to take oaths before Rajapaksa, stating it was against the mandate given by the people to the TNA.
See the report on BBC Tamil here.
During the TNA's election campaign candidates, including Wigneswaran, had united on key demands calling for the right to self-determination, slamming the Sri Lankan constitution and 13th Amendment and charging that Tamils on the island are subjected to genocide.
The emphatically embraced TNA campaign also evoked Tamil nationalist imagery, including that of LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran, which was displayed across the front page of the TNA electoral publication in the run up to the election.
Exiled Tamil journalist J.S Tissainayagam has earlier written,
"The TNA has to provide substantide, credible answers that might allay public outrage.
At the same time, if the TNA is serious about self determination and shared sovereignty as the basis of a political settlement, the obduracy of the government and the Sinhala ruling class will have to be overcome to achieve it. That will require the TNA to mobilize the public through protests, strikes and civil disobedience. It also needs the support of the international community and coordination with political forces in India’s Tamil Nadu and the Tamil diaspora.
All in all, voters in the Northern Province have declared that the time for substantive change has arrived by electing the TNA. The question is whether the TNA can provide the leadership to channel these energies to productive ends. It appears to require more than playing Oliver Twist."
'Tamil voters demand real change, but can TNA deliver?' - J.S Tissainayagam (07 October 2013)
In our editorial we wrote,
"This election was not a vote for the TNA. Quite the reverse, the Tamil people's thumping endorsement of the party's electoral campaign, was a clear rejection of the politics of its leadership."
"The party's predictable success at the polling booth is often used by its leadership to justify overarching claims of unqualified support by the Tamil people. This is a grave mistake. Lacking insight into the party's roots and rise to popularity, the leadership fails to see, that to the Tamil people the raison d'etre of a Tamil party within a Sinhala ethnocracy, is to be the embodiment of Tamil political aspirations at the ballot box. This election was no different."
Vote for liberation (27 September 2013)
Also see our earlier posts:
"Is this what we voted for" asks Jaffna newspaper (06 October 2013)
17 TNA candidates unite on 3 key demands (20 September 2013)
TNA sets out to win support of the masses (18 September 2013)