Sri Lanka to make fresh proposal to revive peace talks
* Suggests focusing on stability of process
* LTTE chief stresses talks should address crucial issues
By Amal Jayasinghe
COLOMBO: Sri Lanka announced Thursday it was finalising “concrete proposals” to grant greater political and financial powers to Tamil Tiger rebels in a bid to salvage the faltering peace process.
The government’s chief peace negotiator, G L Peiris, said proposals for the setting up of a “provisional administrative structure” for the island’s embattled northeast would be sent to the rebels “in the next few days.” Peiris, who is also the government’s constitutional affairs minister, declined to give details of the latest proposals following the rebels’ rejection of two previous offers of limited financial and political powers.
“What we are sending is not a final document, but something that outlines our thoughts on a provisional administrative structure,” Peiris told reporters here.
“After taking inputs from the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) we will decide on a final document.” The peace process ran into trouble when the LTTE announced on April 21 that it was suspending participation in the Norwegian-brokered talks to protest Colombo’s alleged failure to deliver on promises made at six rounds of talks since September.
The Tigers are demanding greater political and financial powers in the island’s war-torn northern and eastern areas as a pre-condition to return to the negotiating table.
Peiris said he was hopeful that the peace talks could resume, but declined to give a timeframe.
“We are not in a desperate hurry to get the show back on the road,” Peiris said. “What we are interested in is not speed, but stability of the process.”
He said the government was prepared to make a “critical evaluation” of the progress so far and make improvements.
Two weeks ago, the LTTE said the stalled peace talks with the government could be revived based on an eventual proposal to grant them greater political authority ahead of a final settlement.
LTTE’s London-based chief negotiator, Anton Balasingham, said the group was waiting for a government proposal for an interim administration that would give them political, administrative and financial power before a final settlement to the conflict which has claimed more than 60,000 lives.
“If a concrete set of proposals is presented, the LTTE will study the frame work and suggest improvements,” Balasingham said. “Thereafter, the parties could enter into negotiations to formalise and finalise the envisaged interim administration.” The Tigers have also been critical of the international community, urging it to establish a roadmap for reaching a final settlement.
“Instead of pursuing guidelines, milestones and road maps for an imaginary solution, the talks should address crucial issues related to the harsh existential realties of the ground situation,” Balasingham said.
There had been intense diplomatic activity by Norway and Sri Lanka’s main financial backer Japan to revive the peace talks.
Although talks remain suspended, both sides are observing a truce that went into effect on February 23 last year. —AFP
Truce monitors demand dismantling of new Tamil Tiger camp
COLOMBO: Sri Lankan troops and Tamil Tigers have failed to end a row over the establishment of a new rebel camp in the island’s east, monitors of their truce said Thursday. The Norwegian-led Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) said the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) were in violation of the truce by setting up a new camp in an area held by government forces in the island’s northeast. “Our stand is that the LTTE must dismantle the camp because we have already ruled that they are violating the ceasefire,” said SLMM deputy head of mission, Hagrup Haukland. Rebel local commanders and the military held talks arranged by the SLMM Wednesday but the issue was not resolved, officials said. The troubles started after the army complained that the Tigers were setting up a new base in the Trincomalee district in violation of the ceasefire agreement. Haukland said they had, however, agreed that the disputed area should be surveyed within five days to make a final determination on the future of the LTTE’s new camp. The Norwegian-arranged truce between the government and the LTTE went into effect from February 23 last year, but there have been alleged violations by both sides. —AFP