Sri Lankans went to the polls on Tuesday to vote at the end of a hard-fought election campaign to decide whether President Mahinda Rajapaksa or his former army chief General Sarath Fonseka should lead the nation.
Both men led the bloody war that last year ended in defeat for Tamil Tiger Nationalists fighting for independence in the north of the Sri Lankan State.
Mr Rajapaksa has now turned on his own commander, accusing Gen Fonseka of wanting to lead the country into a “military dictatorship.”
Though there have been no reliable polls, both candidates appear to command strong Sinhalese followings and the votes of Tamils may, ironically, prove decisive.
This weekend the 30th and 31st January there is a referendum organised by the Tamil National Council being held for the Tamil Diaspora in the U.K. Similar votes have already taken place in France, Norway, Switzerland, Holland, Germany and Canada
The referendum is based on the Vaddukoddail Resolution of 1976 which mandated Tamil politicians to seek independence from Sri Lanka. The question on the ballot paper is:
“The Tamil speaking people have confirmed that the Tamils in Sri Lanka have the right to self governance based on the Vaddukoddai Resolution 1976. This fundamental and essential right includes the right to the independent sovereignty of Eelam; a democratic state, fully embracing the principles of liberalism, equality, and a capitalistic mixed economy, while actively engaging in the global community.”
All Tamils and spouses or descendants who were born in Sri Lanka (with ID) are being asked to cast a yes or no vote. There are about 50 polling stations around the U.K. Stations inside London will be voting on the Saturday from between 9.00 am to 8 pm and Sunday 10 am – 6 pm. Those outside London will only be voting on Saturday. Please check out the sites by visiting http://www.vkr1976.org.uk/pollstations.html.