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TNA drops demand for Tamil statehood

Federal solution based on shared sovereignty and right to self-determination in a contiguous north and east of Sri Lanka was the highlight of the TNA manifesto released on Friday, March 12, leading to international media, including the BBC, Guardian and AFP, claiming the party has dropped its demand for statehood for Tamils.


While irreversibly committing on federal solution, the manifesto is ambiguous on the nature of the sovereignty of Eelam Tamils and their right to self determination, said Tamil political circles in their immediate responses.


The party manifesto also referred to "shared sovereignty among the peoples who inhabit this island". The term shared sovereignty is used to describe structures such as the European Union as well as federal structures with or without the right to secession.


The manifesto refrains from asserting to Tamils exercising their right to self determination to decide the national question in an internationally monitored arrangement.


Reinforcing the party's position of distancing itself from Tamil Eelam, last month TNA leader, Rajavarothayam Sampanthan, told the BBC he believed most Tamils in Sri Lanka no longer believed in violence or separation, but nevertheless wanted equality.


Another TNA parliamentarian, Suresh Premachandran, told the BBC a federal solution was appropriate given the "changed global and regional situation".


Premachandran said he was inviting the government to respond by solving Tamils' problems within a united Sri Lanka.


"If the Sri Lankan state continues its present style of governance without due regard to the rights of the Tamil-speaking peoples, the TNA will launch a peaceful, non-violent campaign of civil disobedience on the Gandhian model," according to the TNA.


The TNA also said it would lobby neighbouring India and the international community to ensure the island's Tamil community gets a greater say in the administration.

The TNA, a coalition of Tamil parties, had 22 seats in the outgoing parliament, but the various elements have split in recent weeks.