The hardline TNA position is being viewed as a move to woo the pro-LTTE diaspora some of whom were critical of the party’s chief ministerial candidate, former top judge C V Wigneswaran.The north and the east were separated in a court order in 2006 having remained as one unit for administrative purposes since 1987 as part of the Indo-Lanka Peace Accord. “What Prabakaran (the late LTTE leader) could not do none of today’s ones will ever be able to do,” the Press Trust of India quoted President Rajapaksa as telling a political gathering in Kandy. President Mahinda Rajapaksa today asserted that he would not allow separation of the island ahead of a crucial provincial election in the Tamil-dominated north.In a veiled reference to the main Tamil party, Tamil National Alliance’s poll manifesto for the September 21 northern provincial election, Rajapaksa said, “I will not allow the separation of the country.” Audio Playerhttp://colombogazette.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/H.E-Kandy-Speech.mp300:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume. The TNA’s election manifesto takes the party back to the Tamil minority’s main demand for self government in a merged north and east province. The northern provincial council election came about as a result of consistent pledges from the Sri Lankan President and is seen as crucial by international watchers.The election is considered a major step towards reconciliation with the island’s Tamil minority since the end of the brutal three-decade-long civil war in 2009 that killed an estimated 100,000 people, when government troops finally crushed LTTE rebels fighting for a separate Tamil homeland.The international community including India have been constantly urging Sri Lanka to hold the election in a free and fair manner.
Stephen O’Brien, who is also the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, travelled to Ganyiel, Southern Unity state, considered one of the most violent areas in the fight for political control of the country.Among the people he met was a starving boy whose grandmother carried him through waist-high swamp to get away from the fighting. His parents are apparently missing. “1000s similar. Horrendous,” Mr. O’Brien wrote on social media, posting a number of photos of people who had fled the fighting and sexual violence. Humanitarian partners, such as the International Red Cross, are setting up clinics directly in the swamps to reach more people, he noted. Some people with nothing to eat survived by chewing on water lilies.“Millions of people prevented from receiving aid by parties to conflict. Immoral, unlawful and unacceptable. We need access now,” Mr. O’Brien has said. He is in South Sudan to see first-hand the critical humanitarian situation and the response which his agency, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), is assisting.RELATED: Famine declared in region of South Sudan – UNThe UN declared a famine in parts of South Sudan on 20 February, increasingly blaming the lack of food and the collapsing economy on the rival forces of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) loyal to President Salva Kiir and the SPLA in Opposition backing Riek Machar.A formal declaration of famine means that people have already started dying of hunger. About 100,000 people are facing starvation, and an additional one million are on the brink of a famine, according to the UN. The total number of food insecure people is expected to rise to 5.5 million at the height of the lean season in July if nothing is done to curb the severity and spread of the food crisis.The situation is worsened for the 3.4 million Sudanese, some of whom Mr. O’Brien met today, who have been displaced and separated from their families.Humanitarian organizations have appealed for $1.6 billion to provide life-saving assistance and protection to some 5.8 million people across South Sudan in 2017.Mr. O’Brien came to South Sudan from Kenya and previously, from Yemen. He is next scheduled to visit Somalia.