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Tamil prisoners may be released to tilt scales in favour of Rajapaksa:


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Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s son MP Namal Rajapaksa yesterday indicated that the long-held demand of the Tamil minority community to release all Tamil prisoners may be fulfilled soon, a move aimed at persuading Tamil legislators to support Rajapaksa, the Press Trust of India reported.

“President (Maithripala) Sirisena and Prime Minister Rajapaksa would make a decision (on the issue) very soon,” Namal tweeted in Tamil language.

Since the war with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) ended in 2009, the Sri Lankan Government has denied that the imprisoned LTTE members are political prisoners. Tamils say some of the prisoners have been held over a long time under anti-terrorism law without even being formally charged.

Namal’s comments are aimed at persuading the legislators in Sri Lanka’s main Tamil party, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), to switch their allegiance to Rajapaksa in his bid to prove a majority in Parliament. 

So far Rajapaksa has 100 MPs on his side while Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has 103 MPs in the 225-member assembly. Most of the 22 remaining MPs, including the TNA, are likely to oppose Rajapaksa. The Rajapaksa camp had already enticed a TNA legislator to join its ranks by giving him a deputy ministerial position.

The TNA’s parliamentary strength has been reduced to 15 as a result and there was speculation that at least four more of them were willing to support Rajapaksa.

The TNA has said it will support a no-trust motion against Rajapaksa, amid mounting pressure on President Sirisena to let the suspended Parliament hold a vote to end the ongoing political crisis.


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