A German NGO expelled from Sri Lanka, at the height of the Vanni offensive, is pushing the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and the Tamil National People’s Front (TNPF) as well as the most influential Diaspora grouping – the UK headquartered Global Tamil Forum (GTF) to adopt a common strategy on the national issue.
The TNPF headed by former MP Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam is a breakaway faction of the TNA. The TNA split in the wake of the LTTE battlefield defeat in May 2009 leading to the formation of the TNPF, which contested Jaffna and Trincomalee electoral districts at the April 2010 parliamentary election, on its own. The TNPF is not represented in parliament.
Authoritative sources told The Island that the TNA, TNPF and the GTF had recently met in Berlin under the auspices of the Berghof Foundation to discuss an entire range of issues, particularly the proposed first Northern Provincial Council election.
The NGO is funded by the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Sources said that a two-day conference took place on June 22 and 23 with the participation of Suresh Premachandran (Jaffna District MP), M. A. Sumanthiran (National List MP) and Selvam Adaikalanathan (TELO leader and Vanni District MP) representing the TNA, Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam and S. Kajendran from the TNPF and GTF leader Rev. Father S.J Emmanuel and its spokesperson Suren Surendiran.
The British Tamil Forum (BTF) too, is believed to have participated in the discussions.
The Berghof Foundation suspended its operations in Sri Lanka late April 2008 subsequent to government decision to rescind a work permit issued to the then Country Director Dr. Nobert Ropers. The Berghof Foundation launched its project here in July 2001 on the invitation of the then government.
The TNA’s recent announcement that it would boycott the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) appointed to recommend ways and means of settling the national problem should be examined taking into consideration the deliberations made in Berlin, sources said. Responding to a query, an official said that the TNA and the TNPF were believed to be divided over their strategy in case the government called for northern provincial council elections even under the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.
Sources speculated that TNPF was likely to boycott the elections widely expected to be held in September.
Sources said that Berghof Foundation sponsored two meetings for the same purpose in Singapore (April 2011) and Berlin (January 2013). Sources asserted that the project was aimed at agreeing on a roadmap to achieve their objectives, which remained the same in spite of eradication of the LTTE’s conventional military power.
At the inauguration of the TNPF, the party pledged it was committed to the concept of Tamil nationalism, homeland, Tamil nationhood, Tamil sovereignty and Tamils’ Right to self-determination. The All Ceylon Tamil Congress was the main constituent of the TNPF, they said.
Former TNA MP Pathmini Sithamparanathan had been an original member of the TNPF, sources said, adding that the majority of those who threw their weight behind the new party were close to the LTTE, particularly its top leadership.