MonitorsPublished on Aug 04, 2008
Tamil Nadu has always played an important role in the ongoing ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka. Tamils fighting for their homeland in the island nation has always desired and appreciated the assistance rendered by their Tamil brethren from the neighbouring India,
South Asia South Asia Weekly 31

Sri Lanka
< class="maroontitle">Tamil Nadu continues to support LTTE

Tamil Nadu has always played an important role in the ongoing ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka. Tamils fighting for their homeland in the island nation has always desired and appreciated the assistance rendered by their Tamil brethren from the neighbouring India, much to the disliking of the two establishments. Assassination of the former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi by the LTTE was thought to bring about a major change in the Tamil psyche towards the LTTE. But recent survey conducted by Ananda Vikatan, a Tamil weekly magazine, proved just the opposite. The survey showed an overwhelming support for the LTTE in Tamil Nadu (47.65%). Most people see Tamil Eelam as the proper solution of Tamil grievances in Sri Lanka (55.4%) with 34.63% of people seeking federal solution thus emphasizing liberal devolution of power. Indian intervention in Sri Lanka is the most sought after with almost 62% people voting in its favour. Gap narrowed down on the question of the arrest of LTTE chief Prabhakaran with 43% saying he should be arrested and 40% demanding his pardon which reiterated the fact that there is still a widespread support and sympathy for the Tamil Tigers in Tamil Nadu and other adjoining states of South India. In fact, within a week more than 4 LTTE cadres were arrested by the Tamil Nadu Q branch of Police Intelligence. During interrogation, it was revealed that they have established a vast network of refugee contacts in the neighbouring coastal states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala.                       

< class="maroontitle">Constituent Assembly to elect new Prime Minister

The Nepali President Ram Baran Yadav has directed that the Constituent Assembly (CA) to elect the new Prime Minister of the country as per the Article 38 (2) of the Interim Constitution. The week-long meeting of the senior leaders of four major political parties, CPN-Maoist, Nepali Congress (NC), CPN-Unified Marxist Leninist (UML) and Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum (MJF) ended inconclusively after they failed to reach a consensus to form a unity government.

The Maoists have been making desperate attempts to form the new government under its leadership but failed to form the government within the prescribed deadline. The talks failed after the parties could not reach consensus on the power-sharing modalities. They could not reach understanding on the three key portfolios – Defence, Home and Finance. The NC and UML are adamant to keep the Defence and Home portfolios, while, the MJF is eyeing the Foreign Affairs portfolio. On the other hand, the Maoists, too, are keen to keep at least two key portfolios Home and Defence. 

Of late, the NC is making all efforts to form the next government by on its own. After returning from the SAARC summit, the caretaker PM Girija Prasad Koirala intensified his meetings with leaders of other fringe parties and presumably thinking of forming the government by excluding the Maoists. Following the President’s directive to the CA, it has now become quite obvious that the new prime minister would be elected on majority votes and probably the Maoists may, once again, find it difficult to make it to the top position. The emerging political polarization suggests that Nepali polity could presumably face more serious consequence if the Maoists are not accommodated in the power-sharing structure.

< class="maroontitle">Local Polls brightens hope of National Polls

In a major step towards establishing democracy, elections were held in 4 city corporations and nine municipalities on August 4. In the first ever elections after the declaration of emergency in January 2007, there were spontaneous flow of voters to exercise their franchise. According to Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) of Bangladesh around 80 percent of votes were cast. Although the elections were non partisan, however, Awami League (AL) supported candidates swept the local bodies poll. 12 out of 13 Mayoral posts were won by AL backed candidates. Another important aspect was the dominance of the traditional political parties viz; AL and Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) secured majority of the votes. The polls were recognized to be free and fair and independent observers both national and foreign have expressed satisfaction over their credibility. The election watch organizations were: Election Working Group (EWG), Fair Election Monitoring Alliance (FEMA), Janipop, Brootee and Bangladesh Human Rights Commission. Earlier, controversies were often raised over credibility of elections in that country. These elections will definitely tend to influence the future of democracy in the country. The military backed government also seems to be on a withdrawal mode. The Election Commission has declared that these polls will prepare the ground for the parliamentary elections in December. It has also extended the parole of Sheikh Hasina, AL Chief, till September 7. However, it still remains adamant on the issue of withdrawal of emergency. The CEC declared that the national Parliamentary elections will be held under the state emergency. 

< class="maroontitle">Gayoom ratifies Constitution

True to his words, Maldivian president Gayoom ratified the new constitution of the Maldives putting at rest all speculations and accusations hurled at him by the opposition parties and the international community. The people’s reactions have been mixed ranging from an optimism ‘Good Move which will bring about major changes in the atoll nation” to a relatively pessimist “don’t know, let’s see” types. While European Union is silent, US have appreciated the move by saying that the Maldives must become a model of change and development for other nations who are wary of bringing about changes in the systems that have outlived their utility. However, various INGOs have expressed concerns over the restrictions put by the new constitution on the non-Muslims and their rights.        

< class="maroontitle">Musharraf's Impeachment
The week remained captivated by the sudden turnaround in the tug of war between President Pervez Musharraf and political parties, mainly Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-N (PMLN). After weeks of discussions and compromises, Pakistan People's Party (PPP) leader Asif Ali Zardari finally agrees with Sharif to the do the impossible: impeach Musharraf, not long ago the most powerful person in Pakistan. The timing of the decisions to launch impeachment proceedings on August 11 would not have been lost on many within and outside Pakistan. It came within days of Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani's visit to Washington. Musharraf, sensing trouble brewing on the horizon, cancelled his visit to Beijing for the Olympics and remained closeted with his advisers to rebuff this move which is being keenly watched. It is not certain whether the Bush administration has abandoned its `strategic ally`.  It is certain that Musharraf would not like to be impeached by the National Assembly and would opt for stepping down if push comes to shove. It is also certain that the Army would not like a former Chief to be humiliated by political parties. The options of Musharraf at this time are quite narrow.
< class="maroontitle">Contributors:

      • Anjali Sharma                  – Sri Lanka, Maldives
      • Joyeeta Bhattacharjee – Bangladesh
      • Paul Soren                       – Nepal, Bhutan
      • Wilson John                     – Pakistan
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