Colombo, Jul 24 : The pro-LTTE political group TNA emerged as a major force in Sri Lanka's war-ravaged north with an overwhelming vote in its favour handing it two-thirds of the local council seats, even as President Mahinda Rajapaksa's coalition swept polls in other parts of the country.
In the first post-LTTE provincial elections in the north that came in more than 25 years, the TNA—once a political arm of the Tamil Tigers—came out with a thumping majority but Rajapaksa's ruling alliance UPFA did not impress. While TNA won 18 of the 26 councils, another Tamil opposition party TULF won two seats and the ruling UPFA could muster only two even as it won 45 of the 65 total seats that went to polls all over the country.
The UPFA's victory on two council seats is largely being credited to Douglas Devananda, the Tamil minister and leader of the Eelam People's Democratic Party (EPDP), whose party dominates the Jaffna islets of Delft and Velanai, the only councils the ruling coalition could win in the north. “The people have for the first time in electoral history recognised the Sri Lanka Freedom Party as a major force in northern politics,” Rajitha Senaratne, the Minister of Fisheries, said.
The local council elections were conducted across Sri Lanka but the focus was on Kilinochchi and Jaffna in the north, where Tamils voted two years after a three-decade war came to an end with the killing of Tiger supremo Vellupillai Prabhakaran. The main opposition Sinhala parties suffered a drubbing as the United National Party (UNP) and the Marxist JVP could not win any council. The UNP in fact lost three councils which they were controlling. PTI