Sri Lanka’s Tamil party wins landslide victory in key poll

JAFFNA, September 22, 2013 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s main Tamil party won a landslide victory Sunday in landmark elections in the battle-scarred north, raising hopes of some degree of self-rule for the ethnic minority after decades of war. The election comes ahead of a Commonwealth heads of government summit due to take place in Colombo in mid-November which Canada has boycotted over human rights concerns.

There was no immediate reaction from Rajapakse’s party on the results, but the government information department on Saturday said the 68 percent turnout in the north was a good sign of “participatory democracy”.

Western diplomats who were in Jaffna monitoring the vote said the TNA had done better than they had expected.

“This is a clear message on what the Tamils want,” one diplomat said, asking not to be named. “It will be difficult to ignore it.” The opposition Tamil National Alliance (TNA) won 30 out of 38 seats in the first elections for a provincial council in the former war zone, amid international pressure for the majority Sinhalese to share power with Tamils four years after the end of the bloody separatist conflict.

TNA leader C. V. Wigneswaran said the results were an overwhelming vote for self-rule for Tami