The UNP is under heavy pressure to re-think its strategy vis-a-vis the LTTE after Thursday`s extraordinary polls defeat engineered by the LTTE.
The LTTE prevented a sure Wickremesinghe victory, a party official said asserting that it was part of the group`s strategy. `We did not expect this,` another source close to an influential MP said. Wickremesinghe would have defeated the incumbent PM with ease, he asserted but unfortunately the LTTE appeared to have wrong-footed the UNP.
Party sources said that the Co-Chairs of the Sri Lankan peace process should take this up with the LTTE on an urgent basis. The Island learns that President Chandrika Kumaratunga and Foreign Minister Anura Bandaranaike, too, are seeking an explanation. The Norwegians recently urged the LTTE not to disrupt the poll. This was done on Kumaratunga`s request. Kumaratunga and the former Norwegian Prime Minister are believed to have discussed the issue in New York.
The LTTE proxy, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) acknowledged that the LTTE action helped Rajapakse.
The Island learns that the US, the European Union, Japan and Norway anticipated heavy support for Wickremesinghe, particularly in the northern and eastern provinces.
Wickremesinghe recently visited the northern and eastern provinces where he promised to resume the Oslo-led peace process on his return to power. Much to the dismay of some of his colleagues, the former Prime Minister offered to alter the country`s unitary status in a bid to reach consensus with the LTTE on a negotiated solution to the national issue.
The LTTE quit the peace process in April 2003, during Wickremesinghe`s tenure as the premier. The UNP repeatedly warned of an imminent resumption of hostilities if Rajapakse is elected.
A senior Jaffna-based army officer speaking on the condition of anonymity said that LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran was likely to shed light on their boycott decision in his Heroe`s Day speech on November 27.
Accusing the LTTE of being unappreciative, a UNP official referred to the removal of Batticaloa District MP Ali Zahir Moulana after the LTTE brought to Wickremesinghe`s notice, the MP`s involvement in facilitating rebel commander Karuna`s escape. He was asked to quit his parliamentary seat despite claiming innocence. Moulana claimed that he moved Karuna to Colombo on a senior LTTE cadre`s (Ramesh) request.