TULF internal rifts emerge

[TamilNet, Sunday, 05 October 1997, 23:59 GMT]
Trouble brewed in the Tamil United Liberation Front as a section of the party's politburo spoke out strongly today against the leader Mr. M Sivasithamparam, Dr. Neelan Thiruchelvam and Mr. Sampanthan whom it accused of being a 'pro-Chandrika coterie'.

Fissures had begun to develop in the party's top levels since early 1996 - mainly over the subtle pro PA role played by the three leaders, although the immediate reason for the morning uproar is said to be the referenda proposed for the eastern province by the PA regime, patently in consultation with Dr.Neelan, Mr. Sivasithamparam and Mr. Sampanthan.

The TULF is today a fading shadow of its former self, surviving mainly due to the personal popularity Mr. Joseph Pararajasingham who, however, has been frequently been accused of reflecting the political interests of the Liberation Tigers than those of his party.

The TULF politburo met this morning to discuss the PA government's latest position on devolution and also the meeting the party's is scheduled to have with the Sri Lankan President this evening.

Mr. Mavai Senathirajah, a senior member of the party leadership, boycotted today's politburo discussion saying that the 'coterie' is running the party on its own while keeping everyone else in the dark.

In a strongly worded letter he accused the Sivasithamparam, Sampanthan, Neelan trio of being oblivious to the sentiments and aspirations of the Tamil people and for striking deals with the government and the other political forces without taking into consideration the real concerns and sufferings of the population in the northeast.

He also strongly criticized them for tacitly backing the PA plan to divide the east by holding referenda in three parts of the province. An attempt made by the three TULF MPs for Batticaloa this morning to persuade Mr. Senathirajah to attend the politburo meeting failed.

However, at the politburo discussion Mr. Joseph Pararajasingham took to task the trio for acting on crucial matters affecting the future of the Tamil people without consulting anyone in the party and also for its behind the scene maneuvers with the PA and the SLMC.

Mr. Joseph reiterated his position that the concept of the Tamil homeland cannot be compromised at any cost and suggested that the TULF need not go out of its way to promote a separate regional unit for the Muslims. "It is up to to the PA to give what the Muslims want" he told the TULF politburo.

The disgruntled section of the party's leadership is mainly worried that the trio are acting with complete disregard to the most important ground reality in the northeast - the Liberation Tigers.

Meanwhile very strongly worded resolutions by community leaders in Batticaloa and Trincomalee condemning the PA's referenda plan as an insidious attempt to destroy the integrity of the Tamil homeland were faxed to the TULF headquarters yesterday.

The resolutions have apparently alarmed those TULF leaders who had assumed that they could smoothly sail through with the PA on the referenda issue and finally sort out the much vexed question of the unit of devolution in Chandrika elusive 'peace package'.

As a result of these developments the TULF politburo decided to inform the Sri Lankan President this evening that the party was completely opposed to the idea of holding referenda in the eastern province.

The Sri Lanka Muslim Congress will also participate in this meeting scheduled to be held at 6 p.m at the Sri Lankan President's official residence.

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