Sri Lanka says it will review peace process after killing
COLOMBO: Sri Lanka on Monday said it would undertake a “serious review” of the Norwegian-backed peace process but would abide by a truce despite the assassination of the foreign minister by suspected Tamil Tiger rebels.
The government’s peace secretariat chief Jayantha Dhanapala suggested that there would have to be a change in dealing with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) following Friday’s slaying of Lakshman Kadirgamar.
“Jayantha Dhanapala noted that in the light of the assassination, there would have to be a serious review of certain policies and procedures followed up to now in relation to the peace process,” the foreign ministry said. Norwegian Foreign Minister Jan Petersen, attending the funeral of Kadirgamar, said there were elements on both sides of the ethnic divide in Sri Lanka who could capitalise on the assassination to disrupt the fragile peace process.
Petersen said what Colombo wanted was mainly for the Tigers to reaffirm that they will abide by the February 2002 truce agreement and refrain from carrying out political assassinations. “There should be a reaffirmation of the ban on political assassinations,” Petersen told AFP. “This was part of the original MOU (memorandum of understanding).
Sri Lanka’s Finance Minister Sarath Amunugama said the government felt “some sections” of the ceasefire could be re-negotiated, but Colombo was still committed to the peace process. “We are still firmly committed to the peace process,” Amunugama told the news agency. Petersen said he was attending the funeral despite an election campaign back at home because it was important for him to talk to key players.
“It is important to get a grip on the reaction. We will need a lot of patience and it will take a lot of talk,” he said, adding however that while he would talk with Sri Lankan leaders before leaving Tuesday, he had no plans to talk with the Tigers during his latest visit. President Chandrika Kumaratunga in talks with Petersen’s deputy, Vidar Helgesen, 10 days ago called for a review of some of the elements of the ceasefire, a call that was rejected at the time by the Tigers.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka President Chandrika Kumaratunga brushed aside security concerns and made an unscheduled appearance at the state funeral on Monday of her slain foreign minister Lakshman Kadirgamar. An official said she ignored security concerns and turned up unannounced at the public funeral. The funeral procession got under way mid-afternoon in the capital Colombo shortly after two Indian ministers had paid their last respects. Indian Foreign Minister Natwar Singh and Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee were the last foreign dignitaries to pay their respects before the procession left Kadirgamar’s official residence for the cremation site. Thousands of police backed by heavily armed soldiers cordoned off Colombo’s Independence Square public park where Kadirgamar was to be cremated on a wood pyre covered with white cotton sheets after Buddhist funeral rites. afp