Sri Lankan govt plans peace proposals after clash
COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s government plans fresh proposals to revive the island’s stalled peace process, its cabinet spokesman said on Monday, as tension grows over a maritime clash between rebels and the navy.
The rebels suspended peace talks in April, saying not enough was being done to rebuild war-torn areas, and they have repeatedly rejected government offers to meet their demands for an interim administration to govern the north and east.
“We plan to set out some basic features of a proposed mechanism but not in the form of a final or concluded document,” spokesman G.L. Peiris told reporters. “It is going to take a little time.”
The island’s troubled peace process was jolted on Saturday when a rebel boat exploded and sank off the island’s north eastern coast after being confronted by the navy, which suspected it of carrying weapons.
The fate of 12 rebels on board is unknown and the rebels have accused the government of trying to sabotage the peace bid.
“We are afraid that the Sri Lanka navy is working hard on a sabotage course of the entire peace process,” SP Thamilselvan, head of the rebels’ political wing, said in a letter to truce monitors, requesting they probe the incident.
Peiris said the government would not comment on the clash pending an investigation by the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission, which is overseeing a Norwegian-brokered ceasefire signed in February last year.
Peiris saw no risk of a breakdown in the process that aims to end two decades of civil war that have killed over 64,000 people.
The government wanted to revive talks with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to discuss the interim structure.
“Before we are in a position to prepare a final paper on the interim structure, it is absolutely necessary to have input from the LTTE,” he said.
To speed up the utilisation of $4.5 billion pledged at a donor conference in Tokyo this month to rebuild the war-ravaged country, Peiris said the government was proposing the appointment of one or two commissioners for the north and east and the setting up of development committees in each district.
“These are steps the government is immediately prepared to take,” he said. —Reuters