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TNPF leader tells Sri Lanka to restructure its state and recognise the Tamil nation

Addressing Parliament this week, Tamil National People's Front (TNPF) leader Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam called on Sinhalese protesters to use this 'golden moment' to restructure Sri Lanka's unitary state and recognise the Tamil speaking nation. 

"You must agree to restructure Sri Lanka, recognising the Tamil and Sinhala speaking nations and honour federal lines," Ponnambalam stated. 

"Your unitary concept is outdated. You've had it for 74 years. You've had it for the last 12 years even after the destruction of the LTTE but you have failed using that very same state structure. For God's sake, wake up! What these politicians have cheated you about, they are also cheating you when they say federalism is for separation." 

Anti-government protests have taken place predominantly across the South over the last week, demanding Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to resign for his role in the island's economic crisis. 

In his speech, Ponnambalam stated that the protesters were not only protesting over the economic crisis but also protesting against "the way in which government and state is acting." 

"For first time you have the might of the military being unleashed against them; the might of the state being unleashed against them and they are beginning to see how dangerous and how disenfranchised they are in a state where politicians only think of themselves;  in a state where the politicians have lied to them for decades," Ponnambalam said. 

"It is not the North-East or the Tamil people who have been robbed. They have been robbed for 74 years and we have been telling that through our mandates given in the North-East that we have been robbed but today even they, the Sinhalese people themselves are being robbed and that is why they they're on the streets," he added

"This moment is a golden moment. This moment is a golden moment to make a change in this country that will result in a total new beginning." 

"Tamil people are willing to support you in that change, but you must support us," the TNPF leader said. 

Ponnambalam also highlighted that the government has "failed in its duty to govern" and expressed that there must be "interim measures" to address the current crisis. If the situation becomes "completely ungovernable", Ponnambalam stated that there needs to be assurance from the President that "he will go immediately" as well as the government. He went further to add that a date should be fixed within the next three months to hold a parliamentary election. 

Despite mounting calls for his resignation, Rajapaksa has refused to step down. Earlier this week, the entire Cabinet, except for Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, tendered their resignations amidst the growing frustration with the current regime. 

Following the resignations, the President called on all political parties to accept ministerial portfolios "to come together to find solutions". However, opposition parties such as the TNPF and Tamil National Alliance (TNA) rejected the offer. 

Tamil National Alliance (TNA) spokesperson, M A Sumanthiran reportedly said that “Tamil National Alliance will not be part of this all-party interim government.”

The Tamil National People's Front also rejected the offer, stating that they "will never endorse or join an interim government led by those who have lost the trust of the people. Holding general elections is the only alternative."






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