Sri Lanka needs a political solution based on the equality of all its people to achieve genuine development and Tamil leaders have to play a responsible, pragmatic role to achieve Tamil people’s aspirations, Sri Lanka’s Opposition Leader and the leader of main Tamil party, Tamil national Alliance R. Sampanthan says.
Weighing in on the government’s performance in its three years in an interview with The Hindu, Mr. Sampanthan said that he doesn’t have the “slightest doubt” that they made the correct decision in backing President Maithripala Sirisena three years ago.
Mr. Sampanthan said President Sirisena was one of the strongest supporters of a just and reasonable solution to the Tamil question and they were also influenced in their decision to support the President by the fact that Mr. Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe were willing to work together.
“I have no regrets about the decision we made, though the Tamil people, and consequently those of us who represent them, expected greater performance from the government,” he said.
He said the Constitution process commenced in 2016 to evolve a reasonable political solution to the national question and considerable work has been done and he expects the process to move after the local elections in next month.
When asked about the gains made by the Tamils during this government, The TNA leader said some of the lands previously held by the military have been released both in the north and east, and about 40-50% of the Tamil prisoners have been released although the government has not yet addressed its commitments on the question of accountability.
“I will not say that nothing has been done. I would certainly say that much more could have been done,” he said.
When asked whether he is optimistic about a political solution, the TNA Leader said the country needs a political solution to embark on a journey towards genuine development and progress, based on the equality of all its people.
“In these circumstances, what we can do is to remain steadfast in the pursuit of these processes, towards an early and successful conclusion. We can’t despair, we can’t abandon things,” he remarked.
He said the Tamil leaders must play a responsible role rather than becoming a source of disruption by opposing every measure by the government.
“Those of us entrusted with the responsibility have a duty to continue to repose at least a measure of trust in the process. We have to play a role that is responsible, pragmatic and oriented towards achievement of what is important for the Tamil people, rather than make a noise about everything and be a source of disruption and disturbance,” Mr. Sampanthan said adding that the current government has maintained the rule of law and no impunity is prevailing now.
“What is the alternative? Do the people want the return of the Mahinda Rajapaksa government? I am not saying that is a good enough reason for nothing to happen, but one must realize that under this government, the rule of law is maintained, we don’t have the culture of impunity that prevailed earlier, and the independence of the judiciary and civilian institutions has been restored.”
“When you take an overall picture of the situation, this is an environment conducive to the resolution of the issues pertaining to the Tamil people,” the Tamil party leader said.