28 October, 2020

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Sri Lanka: First Take On NPC Elections

By R Hariharan – 

Col. (retd) R.Hariharan

About 78.5 percent of 4.25 lakh people of Northern Province who voted in the Provincial Council elections on September 21, 2013 have given the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) a thumping victory. The TNA won 30 seats including 2 bonus seats in the 38-member council while the ruling United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA) secured 7 seats and the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) won 1 seat.

The results were not unexpected; but the large voter turnout of 67.5 percent evidently boosted the TNA figures. TNA’s performance point to the broad acceptance of its reading of political aspirations reflected in its manifesto.

The TNA went into the election after some introspection with its Diaspora patrons and Tamil intellectuals.This resulted in TNA naming an apolitical personality – retired Sri Lanka Supreme Court judge CV Wigneswaran – as its chief ministerial candidate. This prevented TNA from dissipating its energies in a leadership struggle between the three major parties that dominate the five-member conglomerate.

Justice Wigneswaran enjoyed excellent national reputation as a jurist and did not belong to any party. Any doubts about his belief in the Tamil Cause vanished after he delivered the Thanthai Chelvanayagam Lecture “Whither Sri Lankan Tamils” at Colombo on April 25, 2013. The rhetoric and the nuance of speech appealed to most of the Tamils, despite some unorthodox views. Undoubtedly, choice of Wigneswaran helped the TNA’s to broaden its support base as he was apolitical and belonged to no special interest group. Probably this persuaded large number of voters to support TNA after their energies have been sapped by two and a half decades of war.

He also fitted in the TNA bid to project a new image distancing itself from its tainted political association with Prabhakaran while retaining the idiom of ‘Tamil Nation’ at its core. This desire has made the manifesto more a vision statement than a mission statement listing specific objectives of the Party.

For instance, it reaffirmed the Tamils right of self determination and the desire to find a solution to satisfy the Tamil aspirations within a federal structure as stated in Oslo Communiqué.  TNA failed to pursue this objective when it meekly bowed down to Prabhakaran and allowed him to be the sole arbiter of Tamils in the peace process with disastrous results. To resuscitate this objective in the present context of Sri Lanka is going to be an uphill task because much water has flown in Kelaniya River since then. The reality is the LTTE has been eliminated as an extra constitutional rider on finding a solution to the Tamil issue. President Rajapaksa has been elected twice after disowning the federal solution and wishing away the existence of any ethnic problem in Sri Lanka. Tamils have been reduced to play their weakest political wicket now. And last but not the least, there is a government “showing signs of heading in an increasingly authoritarian direction,”(to quote UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mrs Naveneetham Pillay at the end of her recent visit to Sri Lanka).

Now TNA in office in NPC has no choice but to build an equation with Colombo to fulfil the expectations it has kindled among the people.  This is going to be a trying task for the TNA as a whole and the chief minister in particular. lf there is anyone who can undertake the task of striking an equation with an intransigent government, it is probably the chief minister designate Wigneswaran. As a Tamil judge at the highest court of the nation he had walked the tight-rope through the trying period of ethnic conflict. Though he is a non-political personality he has the acumen and ability to take informed decisions while dealing with the government.

Fortunately, he appears to have more confidence in finding home grown solution (Rajapaksa’s much maligned usage) without external intervention than other TNA leaders.  Already he has shown signs of keeping an open mind on issues like participation in the CHOGM (Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting) being hosted by Sri Lanka. He will also be facing a challenging task ahead as he has to carry the disparate and divided TNA polity with their own agendas to tackle a scheming UPFA out to pull the rug from under his feet at the first opportunity.  if Wigneswaran has to arrive at a working relationship with Colombo, it is essential for TNA to shed the ghost of Prabhakaran driving from the backseat throwing broad hints at separatism.

On the other hand, the election results have also showed the total rejection of President Rajapaksa’s strategy of using development needs as an alternative to fulfilling political aspirations. He could have helped the UPFA put up a better show at the polls, if only he had adopted in an inclusive approach in the development process to involve the people in the traumatic years after the end of Eeelam War. But it seems that is not his style not only in respect of Northern Province but also other provinces.  For others it may not matter; but the voting has shown that UPFA has not endeared itself to the people of Northern Province.  After losing their kith and kin, livelihood and habitat in the humanitarian warm they have to be satisfied with a retired General sitting as a Governor and arbiter of their fate with a sizeable army breathing down their neck in their daily life even four years after the war. This is no advertisement for the UPFA.

President Rajapaksa’s post war strategy had always been a mystery. As Dr Dayan Jayatilleka wrote if only he had held the Provincial Council elections say immediately after the war, he could have given form and content to his claim of waging a war of freedom.  Politically it would have made sense as TNA was in disarray and the UPFA had an opportunity to make a real difference to the people. Evidently, he decided to sacrifice the advantage to get a huge majority in parliament and get elected for a second term.

Even as the election results were streaming in President Rajapaksa was off to New York to attend the UN General Assembly. He can now confidently face the audience to point to the successful conduct of elections in the Northern Province, as promised. In a way he is correct, by and large the election was conducted peacefully in spite of the invisible dirty tricks department’s clumsy attempts at confusing the voters and sporadic cases of intimidation of voters and a reported case of opening fire at a van carrying voters.  One can only hope Rajapaksa takes note of the thumping chit people have given to TNA and facilitates building a working relation with Chief Minister Wigneswaran.

And one can only hope Wigneswaran’s troubles as chief minister are not beginning. He needs every ones good wishes to succeed in his thankless task of getting the job done.  And that includes not only his electors, but also TNA leaders and the government of President Rajapaksa.

*Col R Hariharan, a retired Military Intelligence specialist on South Asia, served with the Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka as Head of Intelligence. He is associated with the Chennai Centre for China Studies and the South Asia Analysis Group. E-Mail: colhari@yahoo.com   Blog: www.colhariharan.org

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Latest comments

  • 0
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    You being a military man appear to be living in some other planet.
    Do you not see the domination of civic administration by the army as,to put it mildly,anti-democratic?
    The TNA won in spite of ‘dirty tricks’ by the army – one whole village Mathagal did not vote as the army promised ‘dire consequences’ if they did.
    Does this happen in India?

    • 0
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      justice… where did u get that info from the GTF 1000 miles away well paid London office.. where they dream up of propaganda.. The same GTF who come to Jaffna and try and displace native tamils from their Land.. and Bribing Officials to put their Land deeds????? Or the Same GTF where it shouted for the Children of JAffna to fight and die, while their children got rich on Emigre wealth and a good education???

    • 0
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      I SEE THE INT LTTE emigres and their supporters such as GTF,TGTE and others are now slowly loosing their grip on JAffna Tamil politics.. And the Money they steal for the so-called cause.. All the Propaganda peddled have become false. THey did not want the TNA to win hence they asked them to Boycott these elections.. then did a complete u turn because of some paid stooges of the TNA by the Emigres.. sonn they will attack the TNA as traitors as they did only a few months ago..

    • 0
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      whole of tamil media, BBC Tamil, and even Colombo Telegraph was campaigning for TNA. So it was not only the gov who played dirty tricks

    • 0
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      The point is that the biggest impediment to democracy in Sri Lanka today is Ranil Wickramasinghe who needs to get out.

      His wife who claims to be feminist – personal is political, Maitee – needs to drown him to save Sri Lanka.

      Tough choice for her.. since she has been having a good ride with free overseas trips and the high life in pious white…

      • 1
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        Jani, Ponna pimp the biggest impediment to democracy in Sri Lanka today is not Ranil or his wife but ass-sellers like you who are auctioning your assholes for an arrack bottle or a lunch packet. Get lost you shit eating astray dog.

  • 0
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    Well-done TNA and Tamil people in the North of Sri Lanka. God is watching you.

    • 0
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      Well done Tamil People !

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=geFldFiq0Ik

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xr-y_C8YVhc

      Ethnic Cleansing in Northern Sri Lanka

      Uploaded on May 7, 2010

      The 29th of October is historic for the Northern Muslims of Sri Lanka – on this day, in 1990, the Tamil Tigers(LTTE) forcibly evicted some 75,000 Muslim residents of the Northern districts of Sri Lanka – Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mullaithivu, Mannar and Vavuniya. Today, the lives of these Muslims, who have been displaced for 20 years, have changed drastically but for better or worse?

      Twenty years on and hundreds and thousands of Muslim IDPs who were forcefully evicted by the Tamils from the north, continue to languish in Puttalam. Still living in temporary shelters, they speak of their plight, fears and the hope for a better future.

  • 0
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    President Rajapakse’s pre-war strategy was also a mystery,that was where Prabakaran could not understand him. But Praba understood the mentality of Ranil Wickramasinghe. MR does not have an ideology but a pragmatist and technocrat.

    • 0
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      “…pragmatist and technocrat.”

      Abducting, torturing, murdering political opponents and inconvenient journalists using Gotabhaya and his thugs–all part of his pragmatism and technocracy?

  • 0
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    From a SL point of view, it is best to disrupt the northern PC in every way the government and the supreme court can.

    When Tamil people lose faith in the system, they will desert the TNA.

    If TNA continues, war is the definite end result.

    Using TNA racism to bring back war to the north is the best strategy now. During the war, none of this nonsense could happen. Tamils were tamed ills during the war.

    Last time India financed and initiated Tamil terrorism. This time SL government should initiate Tamil terrorism against the traitors of the Tamil Elam (north AND EAST) cause. Anyone who agrees to a LESSER thing is a traitor to Tamil Elam cause.

  • 0
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    .
    I still remember, TULF’s historic win in 1977 elections, and after they agreed to District Development Councils and won 1981 elections.

    We all know how JRJ tricked TULF to accept DDC and then backstabbed them by not giving any powers.

    Sinhalese leaders never learned a lesson. It is very likely same will happen again.
    :-)

  • 0
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    The stage can now be reset for genuine reconcilliation and dialogue. In the past it was claimed that TNA was not the representative of the Tamil people. This myth has now been shattered and the Govt should reach out to the NCP and help to re-develop the province.

    What is required from the TNA is cooperation and consulation with the center, not one upmanship and trying to go it alone. The Govt should resist the urge to hold the TNA to ransom by withholding developmental aid and extend its whole hearted support.

    High on the agenda should be a solution to militarisation and the disbanding of armed groups. The other contentious issue to be solved is of land and high security zones. It would help considerably if the Governor of the NCP be replaced by a non-military figure, preferably a Tamil.

    • 0
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      Just remove Gotabaya from his post and pack him off to the US (may be he had to face charges there), then not only the Tamils, the entire country can breathe freely and move forward rather than move backwards (regress) as it is happening now.

    • 0
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      Northern Province is a part of Sri Lanka. We agree however that 353,595 people in the Northern Province have voted for the TNA and approved the separatist rhetoric yelled at their election platforms. But this election is no referendum for 13A plus or minus. Besides, one quarter of that number or 82,838 people have clearly opposed the separatists’ rhetoric and voted for the government policies. And that is a big achievement where the government fought a do or die war just four years back and racism and separatism is disseminated as the vogue since.

      Besides 353,595 is rather a miniscula when compared with the vast majority of people in other provinces who support the government. MR should know that devolving Police and land powers is a recipe for unwanted troubles. Best example is the interstate fights between Indian states. Hence no Province should be devolved with powers that could ignite conflicts.

      • 0
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        if you have calibre, proove with evidence that land and ploice power devolved in Indian state is cause for concerns and created conflicts, I know you will never return here after this.

        • 0
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          not that i have anything to add to the dialogue here, but how can comig up with evidence has anything to do with calibre?

          between is the reason you didnt come here for a long time and never replied me on any of the TN robber’s issues :D

          • 0
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            I replied to you, dont lie or pretend to not to know that i did not reply unless you have added any new posting which i missed.

  • 0
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    Hariharan.. If the UPFA was so BAd the In North then why did it Thump the UNP the traditional party always to Poll well in that region.. A few years ago the UPFA lost badly to the UNP.. cant wait to hear the Propaganda spin on this…

    • 0
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      AS a Srilankan i am very proud.A free election.So whats next?Mr Wingeswaran would be best advised to discuss the the issues regarding our nothern friends with Mahinda.Not with Lalitha,Karunanidi or the HR activists.A golden opportunity for all Srilankans.Anyone dreaming of punishing Mahinda for so called war crimes will have to think twice.

      • 0
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        Max Silva

        “Mr Wingeswaran would be best advised to discuss the the issues regarding our nothern friends with Mahinda.Not with Lalitha,Karunanidi or the HR activists”

        When Sri Lankan rulers refuse to talk serious business then the Tamil politicians are bound to talk to outsiders who are willing to listen.

        Would MR heed your advice and speak to TNA?

        “Anyone dreaming of punishing Mahinda for so called war crimes will have to think twice.”

        Is this a veiled threat?

        It would be a mistake to push MR for war crimes. However future independent investigation into war crimes and crimes against humanity should cover the period from 5th April 1971 to date. What it means is push all those war criminals for war crimes not just MR.

        I have thought about it and still believe an independent investigation is possible, necessary and doable and should push whoever is in power.

        What are you going to do about it?

  • 0
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    It is important we remember that the group that won this Northern Province elections has contested under the banner of ITAK. We must not forget that it is the then ITAK leaders that issued the infamous ‘Waddukodai resolution’ on May 14th, 1976 that urged then Tamil youth to take up arms and insisted never to lay it down until Eelam is won.

    Anyway Tamils of the North chose to vote for wives of LTTE leaders and LTTE proxies. And for our part, we in the south have utterly rejected rejected the UNP, the party that promoted the pseudo peace agreement with terrorist LTTE and elected the party that drowned terrorist LTTE in Nanthikadal with a wide margin.

    I am positive, the leaders of the south have not forgotten that no former or current leaders of the said ITAK have ever retracted the said vile statement that lead to all that 30 year mayhem, terrorism and war by LTTE.

    When we carefully analyze what has been said at these election platforms, one would wonder whether the winning group is laying seeds for another war. But we shall not let any goon start another fight to divide this country again or promote ‘Bantu’ land policies within.

    • 0
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      I guess you like the idea of Bantustan ruled by a Sinhala fascist army general! Why not go to South Africa and try Sinhala Aryan race theory there?

    • 0
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      It was the TULF and not the ITAK in 1976 which proclaimed the “Vaddukoddai Resolution”. Get your facts right,and then go a bit deeper into history from 1948 and check the reasons behind the manifestating of that resolution if you wish to know the real causes for the 30 year old mayhem that the country suffered.
      If you do not wish to do that, then change your pen name to begin with the letters un in front of it and be honest to yourself at least.

      • 0
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        Uthungan,
        All Ceylon Tamil Congress and several other Tamil political groups joined together to form TUF or Tamil United Front on May 4, 1972. The ITAK (so-called Federal Party to the south) joined the TUF in 1976. The TUF changed its name to the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) to contest its first general election in 1977 general election.

        So, it is not important which formation proclaimed ‘Waddukodai resolution’ on May 14th, 1976. What is important is that the same trousered Gandhi who lead the so-called peaceful sathiyagraha drove Tamil youth to a 30 year armed conflict with the south only to be vanquished in Nanthikadal in May, 2009. What’s up next?

  • 0
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    Mr. Hariharan.

    “The results were not unexpected; but the large voter turnout of 67.5 percent evidently boosted the TNA figures. TNA’s performance point to the broad acceptance of its reading of political aspirations reflected in its manifesto”

    Northern Council Elections.

    The good news is that 67.5% of the people voted. Why did the other 32.5% not vote? If there was no intimidation, it should have been closer to 80%.

    So, the Tamils want self-governance. This is no surprise at all, courtesy of events since independence in 1948.

    If you look at the other two Provincial Elections, what percentage did vote? The UPFA got 60% of the votes, and the UNP as usual, under the “leadership” of Ranil Wickramasinghe, got around 1/2 of what UPFA got.

    What is amazing is that the JVP is getting decimated.

    http://www.slelections.gov.lk/

    Will the UPFA buy out the rest of the UNP?

    D.S. Senanayake, see what you have done in trying to continue your dynasty and appointing your son Dudley. Are you in Nibbana Land? May you rest in peace.

  • 0
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    Patriot:

    Forget about your concern for now. Mahinda mama is shattered and frustrated that while he has been able to hoodwink the Sinhalese, he could not apply the same magic on the Northern Tamils. So, put aside your concern and try your best to console Mahinda mama first. That would be the most important national and patriotic concern. And I salute you for that.

  • 0
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    Now the second phase of the illegal acts of the Government of Sri Lanka will begin. It will start with President Rajapakse returning from the UN Human Rights 24th session, when legal battles with the illegal patronage of Illegal Cheap Justice would begin. President will show the legal actions against Northern PC as an excuse and delay the appointment of provincial council in the North. “Deveni Wataya aramba wei dan”!

  • 0
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    well done tna and good luck to chief minister Justice Wigneswaran at least you had the guts to do what we in the south could not.

  • 0
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    No one would talk about two racist – Tamils only and Muslims only – winning parties – seats in the elections

  • 0
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    Because of foreign involvement in Tamil politics, the best option is let Tamils to move to the extremist side.

  • 0
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    Patriot (Leela)
    I wonder what the outcome would have been had TNA boycotted the election and it was between UNP and UPFA. The Northeners would have voted with their feet as a protest against President MR.

    It is more than likely the IC (in the form of the UN and 6 monthly Resolutions) will have a close eye on MR GOSL as to how they deal with Wigneswaran and the Council dominated by TNA. Will MR finally show his statesmanship?

    Any talk of a armed conflict is wide off the mark whilst SL is under the microscope.

    re: Fathima (aka Lorenzo) your comment is more suitable to Lankaweb where they would be more than pleased to be entertained.

  • 0
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    Bloody Rubbish from the RAW man in Chennai who should have been charged for War Crimes in 1990. We Tamils, definitely dropped the ball and let this Col. Hariharan and other Indian Majors, and Major Generals get away.

    Prabhakaran’s ghost is only in Colombo in every Sinhala home. However in the North and East the Tamil hero’s true spirit is in existence. Tamil’s resoluteness, determination and defiance has been proven immaterial who their candidate is. TNA won so convincingly and resoundingly is not because of it’s Colombo 7 candidate or due to some of his stupid utterances attacking TN politicians, but because of the “spirit” which will live on for ever, despite the ban on Black or white flags, and Prabhakaran’s photo.

    Wigneswaran saved the Tamil leaders from the North the embarassement of begging for funds from the Rajapakses. Now he can use his command of the Sinhala language and his veryown Sinhala families (Nannayakaras, Fernandos and Gunasekeras) to negotiate/beg for funds. The provincial council does not negotiate for Tamil rights but the people, (Including the diaspora) and elected representatives to the Parliament will. Go read the Constitution.

    PC is like the municipality and we can see how the Colombo or Kandy municipality functions or the populous Western Provincial Council. The UDA has more powers than all combined.

    Let us not forget that India supports the Rajapakses, GOSL, and SLA.

    As for Rajapakse winning the elections twice, let us also not forget that the LTTE installed the Rajapakses in power in 2005 thanks to their ignorant diaspora advisers, and after destroying the same LTTE with chemical weapons which are war crimes the racist-sinhala voters elected him defeating the other War Criminal Fonseka.

    Unfortunately, the Tamils have no real say in the National elections. However between the Colombo Tamils, Up Country Tamils, NE Tamils and the Tamil diaspora they will control the economy. There are also 100 million other Tamils worldwide. So the racist-chauvinist GOSL need to take note of that “economic power” if they want to improve themselves without confrontation, boycotts, sanctions, and trade union action against Sri Lanka.

    Donald Gnanakone
    Tamils For Justice.
    Founder.

    Copy. Col. Hariharan -Chennai

    http://www.dailymirror.lk/news/35848-wigneswaran-tops-in-jaffna.html

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      Donald Gnanakone
      Tamils For Justice.
      Founder.

      Copy. Col. Hariharan -Chennai

      http://www.dailymirror.lk/news/35848-wigneswaran-tops-in-jaffna.html

      Can you include Muslims as well, or for a New Group, Muslims for Justice from to prevent injustice from Tamils.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=geFldFiq0Ik

      Ethnic Cleansing in Northern Sri Lanka

      Uploaded on May 7, 2010
      The 29th of October is historic for the Northern Muslims of Sri Lanka – on this day, in 1990, the Tamil Tigers(LTTE) forcibly evicted some 75,000 Muslim residents of the Northern districts of Sri Lanka – Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mullaithivu, Mannar and Vavuniya. Today, the lives of these Muslims, who have been displaced for 20 years, have changed drastically but for better or worse?

      Twenty years on and hundreds and thousands of Muslim IDPs who were forcefully evicted by the Tamils from the north, continue to languish in Puttalam. Still living in temporary shelters, they speak of their plight, fears and the hope for a better future.

    • 0
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      I must say, except for depicting the blood dripping tiger, Velu as a mere cat and that chemical weapons yarn, it’s not a bad outlook at all. Hope Gota would read it. Thanks, Gnanakone, enjoy a day dream of the ghost of Velu.

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