COLOMBO: India urged Sri Lanka yesterday to share political power with ethnic minority Tamils after their victory in local council elections, in a bid for “genuine reconciliation” after a decades-long war.
The opposition Tamil alliance swept to victory at the weekend in the first regional council elections in the island’s battle-scarred north.
The vote was welcomed internationally as an initial step towards reconciliation between majority Sinhalese and Tamils after the war.
But the government of President Mahinda Rajapakse has said it wants to reduce the powers of the council, including over land issues and policing, raising concerns about whether the alliance will have any control in the region.
India called on the government and the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) to engage “constructively” to address the needs of the region after the end of the separatist conflict that claimed over 100,000 lives.
“Only such a cooperative approach will pave the way for genuine reconciliation between the communities involved,” the Indian High Commission in Colombo said.
The TNA has demanded the army pull out of the region, saying there is no need for soldiers on the streets since Rajapakse’s military crushed Tamil Tiger rebels in 2009 and declared an end to the 37-year war. AFP