12/02/2009, 00.00
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Tamil party to vote for Rajapaksa, but on its conditions

by Melani Manel Perera
The Eelam People Democratic Party wants guarantees for power devolution and a political solution to the Tamil question.
Colombo (AsiaNews) – The Tamil-based Eelam People Democratic Party (EPDP) is prepared to support Mahinda Rajapaksa but on its condition. The party led by Douglas Devananda wants the incumbent president to find a political solution to the Tamil question and a real form of power sharing with local governments

Almost two months before parliamentary and presidential elections take place on 26 January, Sri Lanka’s election campaign is in full swing and battle lines are being drawn. On the one hand, there is the United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA), which backs President Mahinda Rajapaksa; on the other, a group of parties led by the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) have come together to back former General Sarath Fonseka.

Parties are taking side based on differences over reconstruction after 30 years of war, on what to do with the Tamil population and on how best to reintegrate them into the country’s political system and civilian life.

EPDP is prepared to throw its support behind the UFPA, the alliance led by Rajapaksa’s Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), but the incumbent president must find a real solution to the Tamil question after the end of the conflict with the Tamil Tigers.

Implementing the 13th amendment to the Sri Lankan constitution is another important issue on parties’ agenda. If implemented, it would devolve power to local governments, a change that is supported by both national and regional parties, including the People's Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE), which is based in the northern part of the country.

PLOTE leader Dharmalingam Sidharthan announced his party’s support for Rajapaksa. “We are not interested in terminology such as federal. We want a political solution that will allow us to handle [. . .] development and education independently” from the centre. “The President has agreed to work out an acceptable solution,” Mr Sidharthan said.

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