The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) announced its decision to endorse the common opposition's presidential candidate, Maithripala Sirisena, at the election on January 8, in a press briefing this morning.
Journalists were addressed by party leader R. Sampanthan, and TNA MP M. A. Sumanthiran. MPs Mavai Senathirajah and Selvam Adaikalanathan were also present. The TNA spokesperson Suresh Premachandran and MP S. Sritharan did not address the press conference.
The party, which has still now evaded publicly stating its position since the start of campaigning, called on the people to vote for Maithripala.
"We have taken note of and welcome the Common Opposition Candidate’s undertakings, amongst others, to abolish the Executive Presidency, repeal the Eighteenth Amendment, restore independent commissions and guarantee primacy to the rule of law.
The TNA believes that genuine restoration of democracy to the country will only be meaningfully achieved when the Sri Lankan state is structured to accommodate the aspirations of all its diverse peoples to meaningfully access state power, and when all Sri Lanka's citizens are treated equally.
We sincerely hope that in the new consultative and consensus based political culture that would evolve pursuant to the victory of the Common Opposition Candidate, democracy will be restored to the whole country through good faith negotiations between all stakeholders with a view to ensuring a life of equality, justice, dignity and self-respect for all Sri Lanka’s peoples.
The experience of our people has been that the struggle for democracy over dictatorship is inextricably linked to the pursuit of our most cherished values: equality, justice, dignity and freedom. We therefore call on all citizens to turn out in great numbers and defeat the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime by casting their vote in favour of the Common Opposition Candidate Maithripala Sirisena and the Swan symbol."
See full statement here in English and in Tamil.
The common opposition platform includes the UNP leader Ranil Wickremasinghe, the former army general accused of orchestrating war crimes against the Tamil people during the end of the armed conflict, General Sarath Fonseka, and the former Sri Lankan president Chandrika Kumaratunga.
Earlier this week the SLMC also announced it would be backing the opposition candidate.
In his manifesto released earlier this month in only Sinhala and English, Maithripala pledges to protect every citizen from international justice mechanisms targetting individuals responsible for mass atrocities against the Tamil people during the armed conflict against the LTTE and vows to disseminate an image of Buddhism as that of non-violence amongst the West in order to improve, what he described as, Sri Lanka's poor international image at present.
Reiterating his commitment to the "stability, security and sovereignty of the country", Maithripala promises not change any aspect of the constitution that would potentially be detrimental to these aspects and that he would not change anything that required a referendum - thereby ruling out meaningful devolution to the Tamil areas.
Maithripala's manifesto: Maithripala manifesto released: vows to prevent international justice mechanisms and protect SL sovereignty (19 Dec 2014)
Our feature on Maithripala Sirisena: Who is Maithripala Sirisena?
Our editorial on the election here: 'No Choice'
The announcement today follows reports over the past few weeks of the TNA having already decided to back the opposition candidate privately, fearing that their open endorsement would tarnish Maithripala's campaign amongst the Sinhala electorate.