Sri Lanka's main Tamil party the TNA appears to be headed for a split ahead of the local elections in the Northern Province, which is considered a stronghold of the ethnic community.
The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) comprises the Eelam People's Revolutionary Liberation Front, Illankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi, People's Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam and Tamil Eelam Liberation Organisation. It controls the provincial government in the Northern Province.
The moderate and the nationalist factions of the TNA held separate meetings over the weekend in Vanuviya and Jaffna to discuss their course of action, political sources said.
Veteran Tamil politician Suresh Premachandran said his Eelam People's Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF) has decided not to work with the TNA.
"It (TNA) is running a one man show, taking arbitrary decisions," he remarked.
Premachandran said it was wrong for the TNA to support the interim report of the constitutional assembly, which is expected to lead to the new Constitution.
The interim report is expected to lead to a new draft Constitution offering a solution acceptable to the minority Tamils.
He said the EPRLF would team up with the Tamil People's Council (TPC) to contest the local election, which is likely to be held by January end.
A meeting of the TNA in Vavuniya was meant to discuss apparent discontent among its constituent parties and on the need to resolve internal disagreement through dialogue.
"We did not discuss any differences. There aren't many differences. We discussed the stance to be taken on the government budget, we are yet to make a decision on whether to support the government in the budget," M A Sumanthiran, a leading TNA legislator from the moderate group, said.
The other faction of the TNA, which is led by the northern chief minister C V Wigneswaran, met in Jaffna.
Wigneswaran, the nationalist hardliner, does not see eye to eye with the moderate TNA faction headed by the main opposition leader R Sampanthan.
Wigneswaran has been promoting the TPC as an alternative to the TNA. At the Jaffna parley, he appealed for capable, qualified young Tamil men to come forward to contest the election.
"If they don't give a reasonable solution to ethnic issue it would lead to a more complained situation," Wigneswaran reportedly said.
Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mannar, Mullaitivu and Vavuniya are the five districts that constitute the Northern Province, which was the main theatre of the Sri Lankan civil war.
Sri Lanka has a population of 18.5 million of whom the majority are Sinhalese (74 per cent). Other ethnic groups are made up of Sri Lankan Tamils (12.6 per cent), Indian Tamils (5.5 per cent).
According to the government figures, around 20,000 people are missing due to various conflicts including the civil war with Lankan Tamils in the north and east which claimed at least 100,000 lives.
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