elections votingGajendrakumar Ponnambalam, the leader of Tamil National Peoples Front (TNPF) on Thursday (18) addressing the media called on the Tamil people to boycott Sri Lanka’s presidential election next month, stating that the policies in relation to the Tamil question of the common opposition coalition did not differ from that of the ruling regime.

“There is no doubt that every Tamil person wants an end to this regime’s policies – that of targetting the Tamil nation,” said the TNPF President Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam at a press conference on Thursday.

“However, what is important is that there is an end to the atrocities being committed. It is not merely to oust Mahinda Rajapaksa. The key aim of every Tamil person is to put an end to the things that he is doing.”

“From our point of view, the most important question is to what extent will a new regime, brought in by someone new, provide progress to the Tamil nation.”

“In order to defeat the Rajapaksa regime, what kind of person do we need to bring? Do we need to defeat Rajapaksa as an individual, or do we need to defeat his policies?”

“As far as we are concerned, it is not Mahinda Rajapaksa as an individual that is the problem, but his policies. If the next person [to assume the presidency] is going to follow his same policies then what is really taking place here is not the change of a regime, ie. that of policies, but merely a personality change.”

“Our party’s humble request to the Tamil people is that the wisest thing to do at present would be to stay away from this election. At no point in the future should it be said that the Tamil people willfully gave a mandate to destroy the Tamil nation.”

Commenting on the policies and election statements made by the common opposition’s presidential candidate, Maithiripala Sirisena, Mr Ponnambalam said that on the two key Tamil issues of accountability and justice through an international inquiry, as well as finding a political solution that was acceptable to the Tamil people, Sirisena was no different to Rajapaksa.

“He [Sirisena] has publicly said that the solution [to the ethnic conflict] is within a unitary state. He has publicly rejected a federal solution. He has stated that Buddhism will be given foremost place. He has very clearly stated, that under no circumstances will he allow the leaders of the Rajapaksa regime, the leaders of the military and the military as a whole – who are responsible for destruction of the Tamil nation – to face accountability or an international inquiry.”

Highlighting the fact that neither candidate could win without foregrounding their Sinhala nationalism, and moreover, distancing themselves from the Tamil people, including the TNA, he said this would ensure that any promises made to the Tamil people would never be implemented.

“Even if the opposition put on new garbs [of Sinhala nationalism] to win the election, then remove these garbs after the election is won and try to give something to the Tamil people, they will be disgraced before the Sinhala electorate and the new regime will definitely be brought down,” Mr Ponnambalam said.

“The question we ask the Tamil people, is if you want a different regime, what kind of regime do you want? There is absolutely no benefit in defeating Rajapaksa to bring another Rajapaksa.”

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