Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Military solution favoured in Lanka, shows opinion poll

‘Upcountry Tamil and Muslim communities remain skeptical’

A public opinion survey by a think-tank has revealed that the support for a "military solution" to the ethnic strife continues to rise dramatically among the Sinhala community, with well over half of those polled (59.2 per cent) backing it.

The poll conducted by the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) says 48 per cent of the community has a lot of confidence in President Mahinda Rajapaksa's ability to wage a successful military campaign against the LTTE.

"The upcountry Tamil and Muslim communities remain skeptical."

The poll is the 25th report in the series titled "Peace Confidence Index study" (PCI), first conducted in May 2001, gauging the level of confidence in the peace process. It only covers the Sinhala, Muslim and the upcountry Tamil communities in the areas outside the north and east.

The February 2007 report captures the public mood at the close of 2006 and the first two months of the new year, during which time violence and hostilities, particularly in the north and east intensified.

Military offensives and counter attacks by the LTTE led to an increase in the number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and refugees and a worsening humanitarian situation, which in turn has a detrimental effect on human rights across the country.

When compared to the PCI findings of November 2006, Sinhalese support for the Government defeating the LTTE has increased to 35.1 per cent (from 26.1 per cent) while support for peace talks is down to 46.3 per cent (from 57.3 per cent).

It says opinions vary significantly among the communities polled on the commitment of the Government and the LTTE to find peace through talks.

A majority of the Sinhala (73.8 per cent) and the Muslim (50 per cent) communities agree that the Government is committed to find peace through talks.