Region: Sri Lanka ‘slipping back’ to war
COLOMBO: Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga fears Tamil Tiger rebels are gearing up for war as Norwegian-backed peace talks remain deadlocked, her spokesman said on Wednesday.
Kumaratunga, who is also the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, believes that troops have ammunition to last them only 10 days in the event of a major rebel onslaught to retake their former heartland of Jaffna, spokesman Harim Peiris said.
“The president believes that the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) is once again preparing to go to war,” Peiris told reporters here, noting the Tigers were attacking intelligence operatives to weaken security forces.
Kumaratunga, who is in an uneasy cohabitation government, is highly critical of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s handling of the peace process.
Talks between the LTTE and the government have been deadlocked since April 21 when the rebels announced they were suspending their participation to protest what they called the failure on the part of the government to fulfil promises.
Norway has been trying to revive the talks which are aimed at ending three decades of ethnic bloodshed that has claimed over 60,000 lives. Peiris said the Tigers were behaving in the same way they did just before the failure of a previous peace process with Kumaratunga which ended in more fighting in April 1995.
“Indications are that things that happened in 1995 are happening again.... media controlled by the LTTE attacked the president then and now they are attacking the (peace) process. “They are making impossible demands, rearming themselves, eliminating opponents and destroying the capability of the military intelligence.”
The LTTE has been accused of killing over 30 rival Tamils and intelligence operatives and a senior intelligence police officer despite a ceasefire in place since February 23 last year.
But on Tuesday the LTTE said the stalled talks could be revived soon based on a government proposal to grant them greater political authority ahead of a final settlement. —AFP
Tamil Tigers oppose press briefs, ‘internationalisation’ of peace bid
COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tigers oppose the media briefings held at the end of each round of peace talks and the “internationalisation” of the Norwegian-brokered process, a pro-rebel newspaper reported on Wednesday.
The London-based Tamil Guardian newspaper quoted Anton Balasingham, the chief negotiator of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), saying that the group was against the involvement of “powerful extra-territorial forces”. Balasingham, during talks with Norwegian peace envoy Erik Solheim in London Monday, “argued that the facilitators were inclined to work on an agenda to placate the international donor community,” the newspaper said.
On Friday, the LTTE demanded a “radical overhaul” of the peace bid and rejected the government’s latest offer to save the faltering process which has been deadlocked since April over rebel demands. The Tigers have made clear they will return to the table only after the government presents them with a draft for the setting up of an interim administrative council that grants them greater political and financial powers. The Tamil Guardian said Balasingham criticised the “extraordinary high profile given to each round of talks propping up international press conferences that generate expectations of substantial breakthroughs within a short period of time.”
Balasingham also told the Norwegian envoy that excess “internationalisation of the peace process” allowing “powerful extra-territorial forces” to get involved and complicate the process.
The remarks are seen by diplomats here as a reference to the involvement of Japan and the United States which have strongly supported the Norwegian-led initiative and asked the Tigers to return to the negotiating table. —AFP