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Tamils do not have ‘capacity or background to field a common candidate’ says Wickremesinghe

Sri Lanka’s President Ranil Wickremesinghe reportedly said the Tamil people “do not have the unity, capacity and background to field a common candidate” for the upcoming Sri Lankan presidential polls, which are scheduled to be held later this year. 

Wickremesinghe met Tamil parliamentarian C.V. Wigneswaran at his home in Jaffna, where he reportedly made the remarks last month.

Wigneswaran, a former Supreme Court Justice in Sri Lanka, defended the Sri Lankan president visiting his home, stating that it took place as had not been able to attend any of the events that Wickremesinghe had presided over during his recent visit. The trip was marked by protest from Tamils on issues from enforced disappearances to the continued occupation of land by the military.

During the meeting, the Wickremesinghe had told Wigneswaran that his objective was to uplift the economy in the North-East.

“He views everything from an economic lens and as though it was an economic issue,” Wigneswaran told reporters. “When the topic of a common Tamil candidate came up, he said the Tamils lack the unity, the qualifications, and the right conditions that would be supportive of them to put forward such a candidate.”

“I laughed and left,” Wigneswaran reportedly responded. “I said that the respective groups are talking about it and they will make a decision about a general candidate.”

The parliamentarian also said he told the Sri Lankan president that the government is yet to provide a political solution to the Tamils and any attempt by the Tamils to uplift their standard of living is being thwarted by the state. 

Tens of thousands of Sri Lankan soldiers continue to occupy the Tamil North-East, making it one of the most militarised places in the world, even though 15 years have passed since the Mullivaikkal genocide.

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