Striking a nationalist tone, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa today asserted that he would not allow separation of the island ahead of a crucial provincial election in the Tamil-dominated north.
In a veiled reference to the main Tamil party, Tamil National Alliance's poll manifesto for the September 21 northern provincial election, Rajapaksa said, "I will not allow the separation of the country."
"What Prabakaran (the late LTTE leader) could not do none of today's ones will ever be able to do," Rajapaksa told a political gathering in the central district of Kandy.
The TNA's election manifesto takes the party back to the Tamil minority's main demand for self government in a merged north and east province.
The hardline TNA position is being viewed as a move to woo the pro-LTTE diaspora some of whom were critical of the party's chief ministerial candidate, former top judge C V Wigneswaran.
The north and the east were separated in a court order in 2006 having remained as one unit for administrative purposes since 1987 as part of the Indo-Lanka Peace Accord.
The northern provincial council election came about as a result of consistent pledges from the Sri Lankan President and is seen as crucial by international watchers.
The election is considered a major step towards reconciliation with the island's Tamil minority since the end of the brutal three-decade-long civil war in 2009 that killed an estimated 100,000 people, when government troops finally crushed LTTE rebels fighting for a separate Tamil homeland.