TNA, diaspora assure support, urge GoSL to reciprocate

*South African led reconciliation process


by Shamindra Ferdinando

Assuring support for South African reconciliation efforts in Sri Lanka, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and the UK headquartered Global Tamil Forum (GTF) yesterday stressed that it would be the responsibility of the government of Sri Lanka to ensure the required support for the process.

TNA heavyweight M.A. Sumanthiran said now that a top level South African delegation led by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa had held discussions with the government as well as the TNA at the highest level, South Africa would have to make the next move.

The TNA delegation that met the visiting delegation included R. Sampanthan, Mavai Senathirajah, Suresh Premachandran and Sumanthiran. Ramaphosa’s team separately met Northern Province Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran and NPC ministers in Jaffna.

Recalling the circumstances leading to Ramaphosa’s visit to Colombo, Sumanthiran told The Island that South Africa was acting on behalf of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Asked to explain, National List MP and attorney-at-law said that President Rajapaksa on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Colombo last November had sought South African President Jacob Zuma’s intervention.

Dismissing what he called an attempt by a section of the government to downplay Ramaphosa’s visit, Sumanthiran stressed that the South African Deputy President wasn’t here as a tourist. During Ramaphosa’s less than two-day stay here, Sumanthiran pointed out he met President Rajapaksa, External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris, Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe as well as two TNA delegations. The South African effort had the blessings of the government, the MP said, expressing confidence that the ruling coalition would make a genuine bid to resolve the national issue.

South African delegation also met Jaffna Security Forces Commander, Major Gen. Udaya Perera.

UPFA constituent National Freedom Front (NFF) has threatened to quit the government if President Rajapaksa went ahead with the South African project. The NFF also opposed a fresh role for India.

Sumanthiran emphasised that the government should amend its ways to give equal rights to all communities.

UK based GTF spokesman Suren Surendiran said: ""Standing in solidarity with the TNA, GTF is delighted and encouraged by the visit undertaken by such senior level delegation. The combined experience brought in by the delegation among Ebrahim, Ramaphosa, Roelf Mayer and others who in their own capacities had helped shape the constitutional reform in South Africa which now prides itself as a Rainbow Nation, must benefit Sri Lanka if that experience is deployed in the most optimum way."

Emphasizing President Zuma’s keen interest and sincerity, Surendiran said that the GTF hoped that President Rajapaksa would reciprocate equal importance and similar sentiments by showing genuine political will in resolving the most pressing national issue.

Responding to query, Surendiran said that the GTF had engaged South Africa both privately and publicly for four years as well as through close contacts with civil society movements. Surendiran explained the close relationship the GTF had with the ruling ANC and the Tamil Solidarity Movement in South Africa.

The GTF would be delighted to meet Ramaphosa and his delegation in the near future, he said.

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