Sri Lankan left unites for election

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Sri Lankan left unites for election

The following is abridged from a statement issued Nava Sama Samaja Party (NSSP) of Sri Lanka on November 15.

EEThe presidential election will be held on December 21. After severe defeats in the war against the Tamils [fighting for independence] in the north, President Chandrika Kumaratunga is making an all-out effort in her election campaign. The dissident group in the opposition United National Party (UNP) has already joined the People's Alliance government and Chandrika has offered two ministerial posts to UNP members.

The election offers immense opportunities for the left and, in early November, the NSSP, the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), the Muslim United Liberation Front and the New Left Front agreed to nominate a common presidential candidate. He is Nandana Gunatilake from the JVP. The Democratic Workers' Congress has also agreed to join the campaign.

The four parties have agreed on a program with three main aims: (i) to defeat Chandrika and the UNP, who are the agents of the World Bank, the IMF and imperialism in Sri Lanka;

(2) to consolidate democratic rights in Sri Lanka and, towards that end, abolish the executive presidency and immediately transfer these powers to the parliament; and

(3) to appeal for a popular mandate to establish a left regime which will release Sri Lanka from destructive war, eradicate the causes of conflict around the national question and eradicate discrimination while establishing autonomous regions for the minority nationalities within a socialist democracy.

A large number of rural voters will mobilise in support of the left candidate. In the last provincial council elections, the JVP won around 500,000 votes and the NSSP, which contested five districts, gained close to 100,000 votes. This election will enable the left to become a strong third force in the country.

The NSSP's most important achievement in the last five years has been to reach an agreement with the JVP on the national question in Sri Lanka. The NSSP and JVP agree that every effort should be made to end the war between the Sinhalese and Tamils and that autonomy should be granted to the nationalities under a left government.

The NSSP is the only left party in Sri Lanka that has consistently defended the Tamil people's right to self-determination (to a separate state), autonomy and equality. The NSSP also campaigns for the unity of the northern and southern Tamil liberation movements. While the JVP and other left forces do not agree with the whole NSSP program, agreement on a left government giving autonomy to the Tamils is a big step forward.

The left campaign has launched an appeal for contributions to its election fund. They need to raise Rs350,000 to get the campaign off the ground. Donations can be made by visiting <http://www.sampath.lk> or e-mailing <mgr@oper.sampath.lk>.