Tamil National Alliance

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Tamil National Alliance
தமிழ் தேசிய கூட்டமைப்பு
දෙමළ ජාතික සන්ධානය
President R. Sampanthan
Secretary-General Mavai Senathirajah
Deputy President A. Vinayagamoorthy
Deputy Secretary
Founded 20 October 2001 (2001-10-20)
Headquarters 6, 1st Lane,
Point Pedro Road,
Jaffna, Sri Lanka
Ideology Tamil nationalism
16 / 225
Provincial Councils
41 / 455
Local Government
288 / 4,462
Politics of Sri Lanka
Political parties

The Tamil National Alliance (Tamil: தமிழ்த் தேசியக் கூட்டமைப்பு ISO 15919: tamiḻt tēciyakkūṭṭamaippu; TNA) is a political alliance in Sri Lanka that represents the country's Sri Lankan Tamil minority. It was formed in October 2001 by a group of moderate Tamil nationalist parties and former militant groups. The alliance originally supported self-determination in an autonomous state (Tamil Eelam) for the island's Tamils. It supported negotiations with the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to resolve the civil war in Sri Lanka. Since the end of the civil war and the defeat of the LTTE the TNA has dropped the demand for an independent state, saying that it is ready to accept regional self-rule. The TNA and its supporters have been subject to numerous attacks during its existence and three of its sitting Members of Parliament have been assassinated, allegedly by government backed groups.

The TNA currently consists of four parties: Eelam People's Revolutionary Liberation Front, Illankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi, People's Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam and Tamil Eelam Liberation Organization.[1]

The TNA currently has 16 members in the national parliament. It controls the provincial government in the Northern Province and is part of the provincial government in the Eastern Province. It also controls 33 local authorities in the north and east.


The TNA was formed in October 2001 to contest the 2001 parliamentary election on a common platform.[2] On 20 October 2001 a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the All Ceylon Tamil Congress (ACTC), Eelam People's Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF), Tamil Eelam Liberation Organization (TELO) and Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF).[3] At the 2001 parliamentary election the TNA, contesting under the name and symbol of the TULF, received 348,164 votes (3.89%) and won 15 out of 225 seats in the Sri Lankan parliament.[4]

Soon after its formation the TNA began to make a more pro-LTTE stance, supporting their "freedom struggle" and recognising them as the sole representative of the Sri Lankan Tamils.[5] This caused a split within the TULF. Some members of the TULF, led by its president V. Anandasangaree, were opposed to the LTTE. Anandasangaree refused to allow the TNA to use the TULF name during the 2004 parliamentary election.[6] This caused the members of TULF who wished to remain with the TNA to resurrect the Illankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi (ITAK) political party.[7] At the 2004 parliamentary election the TNA, contesting under the name and symbol of the ITAK, received 633,654 votes (6.84%) and won 22 out of 225 seats in parliament.[8]

The TNA boycotted the 2008 local authority election in Batticaloa District and the 2008 Eastern Provincial Council election due to threats posed by the government backed Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal (TMVP) paramilitary group and opposition to the de-merger of the North Eastern Province.[9][10][11][12]

The civil war ended in May 2009 after the LTTE were defeated by the Sri Lankan military.[13] A United Nations report found that as many as 40,000 civilians may have been killed in the final months of the civil war, mostly as a result of indiscriminate shelling by the Sri Lankan military.[14][15][16] There are widespread allegations that both sides committed atrocities and human rights violations including war crimes.[17][18][19] The TNA has consistently campaigned for an independent international investigation into the alleged war crimes.[20][21][22]

At the 2010 presidential election the TNA supported common opposition candidate Sarath Fonseka who, as Commander of the Sri Lanka Army, had played a key role in the LTTE's defeat.[23] In March 2010 the TNA dropped its demand for a separate Tamil state, advocating instead a federal solution with significant devolution and merger of the Northern and Eastern provinces.[24][25] In March 2010 ACTC and its leader Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam, along with fellow TNA MPs S. Kajendran and Pathmini Sithamparanathan, left the TNA and formed the Tamil National People's Front (TNPF).[26][27] At the 2010 parliamentary election the TNA received 233,190 votes (2.90%) and won 14 out of 225 seats in parliament.[28]

At the 2013 provincial council election, the first elections for provincial councils in the Northern Province, the TNA secured nearly 80% of the votes, winning 30 of the 38 seats on the Northern Provincial Council.[29][30][31] The TNA's C. V. Vigneswaran was sworn in as the first democratically elected Chief Minister of the Northern Province on 7 October 2013.[32][33][34]

At the 2015 presidential election the TNA supported common opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena.[35][36] Newly elected president Sirisena formed a national unity government after the election but the TNA chose not to join the new government, saying that, although the TNA supported Sirisena's policies for political reform, a political solution must first be found to address Tamil grievances before the TNA would consider joining the government.[37][38][39] The TNA was however represented by its leader Sampanthan on the National Executive Council.[40][41][42]

In March 2015 the TNA joined an all party provincial government in the Eastern Province.[43][44][45] Two TNA provincial councillors were appointed to the province's Board of Ministers.[46][47]

At the 2015 parliamentary election the TNA received 515,963 votes (4.62%) and won 16 out of 225 seats in parliament.[48][49] After the election Sampanthan was recognised as Leader of the Opposition in parliament.[50][51]

Manifesto and policies[edit]

Tamil National Alliances manifesto were based on what is known as the Thimpu principles amongst Sri Lankan Tamil nationalists.[52] But the TNA later rejected separatism preferring power devolution to the provinces and stated that they accept that Sri Lanka is a unitary state and the TNA does not intent to form a separate state.[53][54]

The current political manifesto and polices of the TNA are,[55]

  • The Tamils are a distinct People and from time immemorial have inhabited this island together with the Sinhalese People and others
  • The contiguous preponderantly Tamil Speaking Northern and Eastern provinces is the historical habitation of the Tamil Speaking Peoples
  • The Tamil People are entitled to the right to self-determination
  • Power sharing arrangements must be established in a unit of a merged Northern and Eastern Provinces based on a Federal structure, in a manner also acceptable to the Tamil Speaking Muslim people
  • Devolution of power on the basis of shared sovereignty shall necessarily be over land, law and order, socio-economic development including health and education, resources and fiscal powers.

The TNA also stands for,

  • There must be meaningful de-militarization resulting in the return to the pre-war situation as it existed in 1983 before the commencement of hostilities by the removal of armed forces, military apparatuses and High Security/Restricted Zones from the Northern and Eastern Provinces
  • Tamil People who have been displaced in the North and the East due to the conflict must be speedily resettled in their original places; housing provided, their livelihoods restored and their dignity respected
  • An independent International Investigation must be conducted into the allegations of violations of international human rights and humanitarian laws made against both the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE during the last stages of the war, the truth ascertained and justice to victims and reparation including compensation must be ensured
  • Persons who are detained without charges must be released promptly and a general amnesty should be granted to all other political prisoners
  • There must be finality reached with regard to thousands of missing persons and compensation must be paid to the next of kin
  • Tamils who fled the country must be permitted to return to their homes and a conducive atmosphere created for their return
  • A comprehensive programme for the development of the North and East including the creation of employment opportunities for the youth will be undertaken with the active support of the Sri Lankan State, the Tamil Diaspora and the International Community

Stance on alleged human rights abuses during the civil war[edit]

The alliance has asked for an international investigation into the alleged human rights abuses during the Sri Lankan civil war and has refused a domestic probe.[56][57] A group of the TNA led by Wigneshwaran has asked for an investigation into the alleged genocide claims but the TNA as a whole was divided on the issue and MP Senathirajah said that the action was unauthorized by the party.[58]

However, after the change of government and the UNHRC report the TNA has welcomed a domestic investigation with a hybrid court and R. Sampanthan praised several new initiatives from the new government and said "The government is adopting the correct position," and asked the government to honor to there commitments but some members such as Ananthi Sasitharan had a less optimistic view.[59] C.Wigneswaran also supported the idea of a hybrid court.[60] The alliance has also condemned the actions of the LTTE and accused them of committing war crimes in the name of the Tamil people. The TNA asked the Sri Lankan government to investigate alleged war crimes during the Civil war and create a Hybrid court(A court with both local and foreign experts) to try perpetrators of international crimes to create an enabling culture and atmosphere in which Tamils could with dignity and self-respect, as equal citizens of Sri Lanka.[61]

Attacks and assassinations[edit]

The TNA and its supporters have been subject to numerous attacks during its existence.

Batticaloa District parliamentary candidate Rajan Sathiyamoorthy was shot dead on 30 March 2004 at his home in Batticaloa.[62][63] The LTTE was blamed for the assassination.[64] Former Ampara District MP A. Chandranehru was shot dead on 7 February 2005 as he was travelling in Batticaloa District.[65][66] The government backed Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal (TMVP) and Eelam National Democratic Liberation Front (ENDLF) paramilitary groups claimed responsibility for the assassination.[64][67]

National List MP Joseph Pararajasingham was shot dead on 25 December 2005 as he attended Midnight Mass in Batticaloa.[68][69] The government backed Eelam People's Democratic Party (EPDP) and TMVP paramilitary groups have been blamed the assassination.[64][70][71] Pararajasingham's nominated replacement Vanniasingham Vigneswaran was shot dead on 7 April 2006 in Trincomalee.[64] The TMVP was blamed for the assassination.[64]

Former Jaffna District MP S. Sivamaharajah was shot dead on 20 August 2006 outside his home in Tellippalai.[72][73] The EPDP was blamed for the assassination.[64] Jaffna District MP Nadarajah Raviraj was shot dead on 10 November 2006 as left his home in Colombo for work.[74][75] The TNA blamed the assassination on paramilitary groups working with the army.[76] The EPDP and Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, brother of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, were also blamed.[64][77][78]

Jaffna District MP K. Sivanesan was killed by claymore mines on 6 March 2008 near Maankulam, Mullaitivu District as he returned home to Mallavi after attending Parliament in Colombo.[79][80] The TNA blamed the assassination on the army's Deep Penetration Unit.[64][81]

On 7 March 2011 Jaffna District MP S. Shritharan was travelling in a van on the A12 highway near Nochchiyagama, Anuradhapura District when three men standing by a white van parked on the roadside pulled out guns and started shooting and throwing hand grenades at Shritharan's van.[82][83] Sritharan's police guard fired back, forcing the attackers to flee in their white van which had no number plates. No one was hurt in the incident. Shritharan has blamed the EPDP, a government backed paramilitary group, for the assassination attempt.[84] A TNA local election campaign meeting in Alaveddy on 16 June 2011 was attacked allegedly by army personnel.[85][86]

A mob, allegedly from the security forces, attacked a TNA meeting at MP S. Shritharan's in Kilinochchi on 30 March 2013, injuring 13.[87][88] During the 2013 provincial council election campaign TNA activist Rasiah Kavithan was clubbed to death by United People's Freedom Alliance supporters on 16 September 2013 in Puthukkudiyiruppu, Mullaitivu District.[89][90][91] A group of around 70 armed men in military uniform attacked the home of TNA provincial council candidate Ananthi Sasitharan in Chulipuram on 20 September 2013, injuring some of her supporters and an election monitor.[92][93][94]

Electoral history[edit]

Election Northern Province Eastern Province National
Votes % Seats Votes % Seats Votes % Seats
2001 Parliamentary[95] 144,274 51.32% 9 191,194 30.81% 5 348,164 3.89% 15
2004 Parliamentary[96] 348,155 82.03% 13 285,499 39.96% 7 633,654 6.84% 22
2006 Local[97] - - - 96,466 21.69% 69 - - -
2009 Local[98] 12,287 36.99% 13 - - - - - -
2010 Parliamentary[99] 106,792 41.80% 8 126,398 21.89% 5 233,190 2.90% 14
2011 Local[100][101][102] 190,625 62.87% 226 64,453 13.06% 49 255,078 2.99% 275
2012 Provincial[103] - - - 193,827 30.59% 11 - - -
2013 Provincial[104] 353,595 78.48% 30 - - - - - -
2015 Parliamentary[105] 297,463 63.96% 9 218,500 29.31% 5 515,963 4.62% 16

Election results[edit]

2001 Parliamentary General Election[edit]

In the first parliamentary election contested by the Tamil National Alliance, the 5 December 2001 election, the TNA led by Rajavarothiam Sampanthan won 3.88% of the popular vote and 15 out of 225 seats in the Sri Lankan parliament.

Votes and seats won by TNA by electoral district

Votes % Seats Turnout TNA MPs
Ampara 48,789 17.41% 1 82.51% Ariyanayagam Chandra Nehru (TULF)
Batticaloa 86,284 48.17% 3 68.20% G. Krishnapillai (ACTC)
Joseph Pararajasingham (TULF)
Thambiraja Thangavadivel (TELO)
Colombo 12,696 1.20% 0 76.31%
Jaffna 102,324 54.84% 6 31.14% V. Anandasangaree (TULF)
Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam (ACTC)
Nadarajah Raviraj (TULF)
Mavai Senathirajah (TULF)
M. K. Shivajilingam (TELO)
A. Vinayagamoorthy (ACTC)
Trincomalee 56,121 34.83% 1 79.88% R. Sampanthan (TULF)
Vanni 41,950 44.39% 3 46.77% Selvam Adaikalanathan (TELO)
Sivasakthy Ananthan (EPRLF)
Irasa Kuhaneswaran (TELO)
National List 1 M. Sivasithamparam (TULF), died 5 June 2002
K. Thurairetnasingam (TULF) (replaces M. Sivasithamparam)
Total 348,164 3.88% 15 76.03%
Source:"Parliamentary General Election 2001, Final District Results". Department of Elections, Sri Lanka. 

2004 Parliamentary General Election[edit]

In the 2 April 2004 parliamentary election in which the United People's Freedom Alliance alliance led by President Kumaratunga came to power, the Tamil National Alliance led by Rajavarothiam Sampanthan won 6.84% of the popular vote and 22 out of 225 seats in the Sri Lankan parliament.

Votes and seats won by TNA by electoral district

Votes % Seats Turnout TNA MPs
Ampara 55,533 19.13% 1 81.42% K. Pathmanathan, died 21 May 2009
Thomas Thangathurai William, from 12 June 2009 (replaces K. Pathmanathan)
Batticaloa 161,011 66.71% 4 83.58% Senathirajah Jeyanandamoorthy
Thanmanpillai Kanagasabai
Thangeswary Kathiraman
Kingsley Rasanayagam, resigned April 2004
P. Ariyanethiran, from 18 May 2004 (replaces Kingsley Rasanayagam)
Jaffna 257,320 90.60% 8 47.38% Selvarajah Kajendren
Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam (ACTC)
Suresh Premachandran (EPRLF)
Nadarajah Raviraj (ITAK), murdered 10 November 2006
Mavai Senathirajah (ITAK)
M. K. Shivajilingam (TELO)
K. Sivanesan, murdered 6 March 2008
Pathmini Sithamparanathan
Nallathamby Srikantha (TELO), from 30 November 2006 (replaces Nadarajah Raviraj)
Solomon Cyril, from 9 April 2008 (replaces Kidnan Sivanesan)
Trincomalee 68,955 37.72% 2 85.44% R. Sampanthan (ITAK)
K. Thurairetnasingam (ITAK)
Vanni 90,835 64.71% 5 66.64% Selvam Adaikalanathan (TELO)
Sivasakthy Ananthan (EPRLF)
Sathasivam Kanagaratnam
Sivanathan Kisshor
Vino Noharathalingam (TELO)
National List 2 M. K. Eelaventhan, expelled from Parliament 14 December 2007 for non-attendance
Joseph Pararajasingham (ITAK), murdered 24 December 2005
Chandra Nehru Chandrakanthan, from 27 September 2006 (replaces Joseph Pararajasingham)
Raseen Mohammed Imam, from 5 February 2008 (replaces M. K. Eelaventhan)
Total 633,654 6.84% 22 75.96%
Source:"Parliamentary General Election 2004, Final District Results". Department of Elections, Sri Lanka. 

2010 Parliamentary General Election[edit]

In the 8 April 2010 parliamentary election in which the United People's Freedom Alliance alliance led by President Rajapaksa retained power, the Tamil National Alliance led by Rajavarothiam Sampanthan won 2.9% of the popular vote and 14 out of 225 seats in the Sri Lankan parliament.

Votes and seats won by TNA by electoral district

Votes % Seats Turnout TNA MPs
Ampara 26,895 10.47% 1 64.74% Podiappuhamy Piyasena
Batticaloa 66,235 36.67% 3 58.56% P. Ariyanethiran (ITAK)
P. Selvarasa (ITAK)
S. Yogeswaran (ITAK)
Jaffna 65,119 43.85% 5 23.33% Suresh Premachandran (EPRLF)
E. Saravanapavan (ITAK)
Mavai Senathirajah (ITAK)
S. Sritharan (ITAK)
A. Vinayagamoorthy
Trincomalee 33,268 23.81% 1 62.20% R. Sampanthan (ITAK)
Vanni 41,673 38.96% 3 43.89% Selvam Adaikalanathan (TELO)
Sivasakthy Ananthan (EPRLF)
Vino Noharathalingam (TELO)
National List 1 M. A. Sumanthiran (ITAK)
Total 233,190 2.90% 14 61.26%
Source:"Parliamentary General Election – 2010". Department of Elections, Sri Lanka. 


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