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‘We are yet to find a leader like Velupillai Prabhakaran’ says Tamil MP

File photograph: LTTE leader Prabhakaran

As Sri Lanka’s presidential elections draw closer and Tamil parties debate whether a common candidate should be selected, Ilankai Tamil Arasu Katchi (ITAK) MP Charles Nirmalanathan said that Tamils were “yet to identify a Tamil leader of the likes of Velupillai Prabhakaran,” referring to the leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

“The Tamil political parties are yet to reach a mutual consensus on whom to field or support as a common Tamil candidate ahead of the presidential polls,” Nirmalanathan told reporters in Mannar. “Even though Tamils have voted continuously in every preceding presidential election, their rights have been denied outright. This makes restoring faith in politics and hope in a common candidate difficult.”

He added that it is his personal opinion, that fielding a Tamil common candidate will be “very difficult.”

“In terms of the North-East, or Tamils in the hill country or Colombo, they are yet to identify a Tamil leader of the likes of Velupillai Prabhakaran,” he said. 

He added that this makes it difficult for a party to seek a common candidate who will receive acceptance from all quarters. 

“In general, Tamils remain disinterested in politics. Even the acceptance or need for a common Tamil candidate is waning among the general public. I trust that when the Presidential election dates are announced, and candidates are nominated, the relevant parties will make an informed decision.”

Over the last few weeks, there has been talk of a common Tamil candidate who would be fitting to represent the Tamil aspirations,  though no Tamil has ever been elected as president of Sri Lanka.

However Tamil parties have had opposing views. Eelam People’s Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF) leader and former parliamentarian Suresh Premachandran told reporters in Vavuniya that plans are afoot among some Tamil political parties to field a common Tamil candidate ahead of the upcoming presidential polls scheduled to be held later this year.  Yet former Chairman of the Northern Provincial Council, C.V.K Sivagnanam, maintained that the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) would not field a common candidate ahead of Sri Lanka's presidential elections. Sivagnanam noted that whilst some parties had called for a Tamil candidate at the polls, with some having suggested "names and published pedigrees of persons who could be the presidential candidate" this would not be the position of the TNA.

Meanwhile former chief minister of the Northern province C V Wigneswaran has put himself forward to be the Tamil common candidate.

Other parties have spoken of boycotting the presidential elections entirely, given that Sinhala leaders have made no pledges on accountability for the genocide or devolving powers to Tamil regions.

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