The Tamil National Alliance party won a sweeping victory in local elections held in the northern part of Sri Lanka, where ethnic Tamils comprise a majority of the population and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) once waged a bloody terrorist campaign for a separate Tamil nation.
The results -- which saw the Tamil party win 20 out of 25 election seats -- have been seen as a blow to the ruling party of President Mahinda Rajapksa, who had campaigned vigorously for his party despite widespread feelings that the central government has done little to rehabilitate Tamils displaced and interned during the final push of the civil war in 2009.
According to the U.K.'s Independent newspaper, the Tamil National Alliance has already said that the landslide victory gives them a mandate for change, and called for a genuine effort at post-war reconciliation.
The paper quoted Suresh Premachandran, a TNA member of parliament, as saying: "The majority of the people support the TNA. This shows the Government of Sri Lanka that they must work with the TNA to solve the problems amicably. This means not just [bringing] development – people voted for a political settlement."
Local journalists and aid workers familiar with conditions in Sri Lanka have made disturbing allegations of continued repression of the Tamil population after the 2009 government military victory -- during which a UN panel said there is strong evidence that the army shelled civilians and carried out extrajudicial executions.
Still resisting a wider enquiry into war crimes accusations, President Rajapaksa is struggling to retain the support of allies like India, even as he has rejected Tamil demands for greater autonomy in areas such as control over the police and land management.