|Brutal Rajapakse regime gets a bloody nose in poll
Sri Lanka's main Tamil party, the ally of the crushed Tamil terrorist group the ‘Tigers,’ secured a landslide in the first semi-autonomous council elections in the island's north after decades of war.
The vote dealt a bloody nose to the repressive regime of President Mahinda Rajapakse, notorious for human rights abuses, murders of journalists and opponents, and wide-scale corruption by his family, including his sons and relatives. Faced with murder threats from Rajapakse's goons, yet another journalist fled the country last week.
The Tamil National Alliance won all five districts in the Northern Provincial Council which went to the polls Saturday, the department of Elections results showed.
The TNA bagged 30 out of a total of 38 seats in an election held under a system of proportional representation.
In the most populous district of Jaffna, the TNA secured more than 84 percent of the popular vote, exceeding the party's own projections of 66 percent.
Rajapakse's United People's Freedom Alliance was a distant second with just 7 seats while a Muslim party picked the other seat.
The TNA, which has vowed to press a demand for “self-rule'' for Sri Lanka's ethnic Tamils in the majority Sinhalese nation of 20 million, made a clean sweep in the war-affected region.
The government said 68 percent of the 719,000 electorate in the Northern Province turned out to vote Saturday.
The TNA was regarded proxies of the terrorist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, crushed by government forces in May 2009. Its low-caste leader V Prabhakaran was killed.
Retired Supreme Court judge Kanagasabapathy Wigneswaran is now expected to be the region's first elected chief minister in a council that will have limited powers over the local administration.
Wigneswaran, who turns 74 next month, has said he wants to work with Colombo on pushing his manifesto, which calls for “self-government'' for Tamils.
But the provincial council is largely powerless and Wigneswaran will have to contend with a center-appointed governor who will control most of the council's affairs, which is likely to cause rifts between the provincial and central governments.
But the two-thirds majority on the provincial council means Wigneswaran can follow through with his threat to call for a no-confidence vote against the governor _ a retired military officer_ who he has accused of telling the bureaucracy to take orders only from him.
The central government retains control over taxes and has financial autonomy in the province, the center could frustrate any council's plans it disagrees with by withholding money.—Agencies