Illankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi (ITAK), the dominant party of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), decided today to support National Democratic Front’s presidential candidate Sajith Premadasa, a party official said today.
The ITAK took this decision after a day-long discussion by its central committee in Vavuniya today. Jaffna district MP M.A. Sumanthiran told Daily Mirror that the ITAK would, however, hold talks today with the People’s Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE) and the Tamil Eelam Liberation Organisation (TELO), as its alliance partners in the TNA and issue a statement detailing out reasons for its decision to back Mr Premadasa.
“We will talk to the PLOTE and TELO as our alliance partners in the TNA and issue a statement,” he said. He said TNA leader R. Sampanthan would undertake the task on behalf of the party.
Mr Sumanthiran said Mr Premadasa had committed to strengthening democratic space in his manifesto, and it was welcoming.
“There is a commitment to democratic space in his manifesto which will give us opportunity to pursue our agenda,” he said.
Also, he said the ITAK considered the past performances of the two political formations when arriving at this decision. The TNA has 16 seats in parliament, and 14 of them belong to the ITAK.
Earlier, the TNA, along with two other parties – Tamil Makkal Koottany (TMK) and Eelam People’s Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF) - put forward 13 demands to the presidential candidates. These demands include the merger of the northern and eastern provinces, a pardon for those held under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), the release of land held by the military and power-sharing.
However, no presidential candidate responded to these demands favourably. Later, the TNA said it would come out with its stand after the respective candidates released their manifestos.
The TNA extended support to the presidential candidates fielded by the political formations led by the United National Party (UNP) both in 2010 and 2015. (Kelum Bandara)