Sri Lankan peace broker reshuffled as Tigers suspend talks
COLOMBO: The Sri Lankan government is set to reorganise its main peace secretariat after Tamil Tiger rebels suspended talks, citing the government’s failure to deliver on its promises, a press report said Sunday.
The Secretariat for Co-ordinating the Peace Process (SCOPP) will see several changes in its staffing and functions following a directive from Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, the English-language Sunday Leader newspaper said.
“According to changes proposed by the prime minister, the Peace Secretariat will be restructured and will handle only political issues while the developmental aspects stemming from the peace process will be dealt with by an apex body to be formed shortly,” the report said.
There was no immediate reaction from the SCOPP to the report, which followed the suspension of peace talks by the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), who cited failure on the part of the government on critical issues.
However, the Tigers Saturday appeared to have softened their stance and sought to assure the United States that they were not completely scuttling talks with the government.
The London-based chief negotiator of the LTTE, Anton Balasingham, said Monday’s decision to suspend the talks was only aimed at increasing “pressure’ on the government to deliver on key issues.
The US ambassador here, Ashley Wills, said there had been problems in implementing a Norwegian-arranged truce that went into effect on February 23 last year, but rejected Tiger claims that the government alone was to blame.
“The Tigers, too, bear heavy responsibility for numerous breaches of the ceasefire,” the ambassador said last week, adding that the guerrillas must renounce violence and the use of terror tactics, and return to the peace talks.
The US has taken a hands-on interest in Sri Lanka’s peace process aimed at ending three decades of ethnic bloodshed that has claimed more than 60,000 lives. —AFP