Sri Lankan peace bid suffers stillbirth
COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s latest bid to revive the peace process with Tiger rebels has suffered a stillbirth with the country’s main opposition calling for a boycott of the new initiative, political sources said on Sunday.
President Chandrika Kumaratunga is due to launch”National Advisory Council for Peace and Reconciliation” on Monday. But parties holding the balance of power in parliament, who can make or break a deal with rebels, will not attend.
“The council shall be the forum for consultation and advice on issues pertaining to the peace process and for advancing reconciliation and understanding among persons of communities through dialogue,” the president’s office said. The main opposition United National Party (UNP) dismissed Kumaratunga’s initiative and said the way to end the deadlock in the Norwegian-backed peace process was to start direct negotiations with the Tigers. Compounding the problems for Kumaratunga is a decision by Tiger proxies in parliament, the Tamil National Alliance, to keep away and instead insist on resuming peace talks based on the controversial Tiger self-rule proposals.
Political sources said the council would be of little use without the key players.
Kumaratunga’s Marxist-backed party came to power in April after dismissing the right-wing administration of UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe on a charge of making too many concessions to Tigers. afp