President Mahinda Rajapaksa s government is likely to receive the support of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) to introduce constitutional amendments aimed at devolving powers to the regions.
A consensus between the government and the TNA, which campaigned, at the April 8 general election, for protecting rights of the Tamil speaking people, is expected in the near future.
Well-informed sources told The Island that India would pressure the TNA to align with the Rajapaksa administration to pave the way for required constitutional changes.
Although a re-merger of the Eastern Province with the North or police powers to regions would not be negotiable, the government was expected to go for maximum possible devolution.
Sources said that now that President Rajapaksa had received an overwhelming mandate at the January 26 and April 8 presidential and general elections, he could go ahead with the much-delayed devolution process.
Responding to a query by The Island, sources said a delay on the part of the Sri Lankan government would only upset India and strengthen the Tamil Diaspora bent on reviving separatist sentiments, though the LTTE no longer posed a conventional military threat.
They said the Tamil Diaspora was seeking international support to justify its cause on the basis of `Sri Lanka s failure to resolve the issue`.
Sources expressed confidence that the 14-member TNA parliamentary group led by veteran MP R. Sampanthan would throw its weight behind the government to introduce far-reaching constitutional amendments.
Sampanthan said that they could certainly work with the government to make progress in areas which would benefit the Tamil speaking people and the country as a whole.
`We are quite willing to work with the government,` he told The Island yesterday.
The Trincomalee District MP emphasised that they would adopt what he called a very positive and constructive attitude towards this.
Asked whether the TNA had been in touch with India regarding the latest initiative, MP Sampanthan said that he was in contact with many countries and many people.
He said that India was keen to resolve the long-standing problem. The international community expected Sri Lanka to tackle the issue.
Responding to another query, he said he would certainly impress on the UNP the need for a consensus regarding the devolution proposals. Sri Lanka should not miss this opportunity to resolve the issue, now that government had the wherewithal to finalise a political deal acceptable to all. Everything would depend on the government s readiness to set up proposals acceptable to the Tamil speaking people, the TNA leader said.
Government sources said President Rajapaksa was confident that none of the UPFA s constituent partners, particularly the JHU and the National Freedom Front (NFF), would cause trouble, though they had resented moves aimed at striking a deal with the TNA sometime back. Two parties with just six seats among them were no longer in a position to dictate terms to the dominant partner (SLFP). The sources revealed that even the JVP-led Democratic National Alliance (DNA) was likely to take a positive approach given its links with a section of the international community supportive of devolution of powers to the regions.
MP Sampanthan said that their support to Opposition candidate, General Sarath Fonseka, at the presidential election should not be an impediment to an alliance between the government and the TNA.