The TMVP is demanding a guarantee it will be offered the post of chief minister of the Eastern Province if it is to contest in alliance with the United People s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) -- but the ruling party is not saying yes or no to the demand while longstanding government allies LSSP and the CP have decided to break away for the polls.
A senior minister said a deal had been struck with the TMVP but refused to divulge if there had been an agreement to give the Chief Minister s post to a member of the armed group. TMVP spokesman Azad Moulana said yesterday they were awaiting a response from the UPFA to the party s three demands. He said that along with the demand for the chief minister s post, the TMVP or Pillayan Group, was also seeking a specific number of seats for its candidates and sufficient funds to develop the province.
He said they were hoping for a response from the government today. Senior Ministers Nimal Siripala de Silva who heads the SLFP s nomination board for the Eastern Province said a meeting would be held at Temple Trees tomorrow to take decisions on various issues, including electoral deals.
He confirmed that the SLFP had decided to contest the elections in alliance with the TMVP but declined to give further details. We are coming as a coalition with the TMVP. That is confirmed.
The minister said the decision on who would be the chief minister would be taken after the elections and not now. The SLFP is reported to have approached the main Muslim party, the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) also to join the alliance but the SLMC sources said the party would contest on its own.
While the UPFA moved to forge new alliance for the Eastern Province elections, some of its longstanding allies reported that they were breaking away for the eastern polls. A spokesman said five political parties, including the Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP) and the Communist Party (CP) which backed the UPFA during the last Parliamentary and Presidential polls had decided to contest the eastern elections in a new alliance with Tamil parties.
The LSSP, the CP, the Sri Lanka Mahajana Party, the Democratic Left Front and the Desha Vimukthi Janatha Pakshaya would field candidates under the banner of the Tamil National Democratic Alliance which consists of the TULF, the PLOTE and the EPRLF (Pathmanabha Wing).A spokesman for the LSSP said the move was aimed at building confidence between left political parties in the south and parties which had similar ideas in the north and east. We believe that going into an alliance with these Tamil parties will help find the solution to the ethnic issue, he said.
PLOTE leader Dharmalingam Siddarthan confirmed they had reached an agreement with the five southern parties because an earlier attempt to forge an alliance with the EPD had failed. Nominations for the Eastern Provincial Council elections have already begun and will end on Thursday.
In a separate development, the main Tamil party, Tamil National Alliance (TNA) which has decided not to contest the provincial elections, has urged UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe to campaign for a merged north and eastern province.
The TNA delegation led by party leader R. Sampanthan made the request at a meeting held with the UNP leader. We will allow the people to decide for whom to vote. We will not be involved in the campaign telling voters to select a particular party, TNA parliamentarian K. Pathmanadan who took part in the discussions said.