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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 79

LTTE (600,000 votes) abandons Ranil: Ranil's loss is Mahinda

[b]LTTE (600,000 votes) abandons Ranil: Ranil's loss is Mahinda's gain[/b]

H. L. D. Mahindapala

[b] Colombo, 11 November, ( [/b]Yesterday’s statement of R. Sampanthan, leader of the Tamil National Alliance, disowning both presidential candidates, has left Ranil Wickremasinghe high and dry. "Nothing worthwhile would be achieved by supporting either of the two leading candidates in the Sri Lankan Presidential election," said Sampanthan. On the one hand, this statement undermines Wickremasinghe's claim to be the champion of the minorities. On the other hand - and more importantly -- this implies that the LTTE is not going to deliver him the votes that he was expecting as the champion of the minorities (meaning LTTE).

Wickremesinghe's presidential campaign relied essentially on winning the Tamil votes. He was counting essentially on 600,000 Tamils votes of the north and the east. But after yesterday's critical meeting in Killinochchi it is clear that the LTTE has virtually abandoned him. Political observers agree that Sampanthan's statement yesterday dealt a severe blow to Wickremasinghe's chances of winning the presidential election.

Though the LTTE stance was signaled earlier through their websites and print media, it would nevertheless be a rude shock to the campaign managers and spin doctors of the UNP. Their political calculation was that on an evenly balanced south it is the minority votes that would tip the scales. The NGO pundits and the pro-UNP private sector media too relied heavily on this assumption. This was the fundamental base on which the Wickremasinghe camp was planning and hoping to win the election. But exactly a week before the election the LTTE has pulled the rug from under Wickremasinghe's feet.

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