The Web Sri Lanka In Focus

Friday, 25 January 2008

Sri Lanka to hold local elections in March in restive east

Sri Lanka today announced plans to hold local council polls on March 10 in the country's restive eastern region for the first time in 14 years.

According to the Election Department, polls for the municipal and urban councils will be held on the same day.

Six political parties and 22 independent groups will participate in the elections, media reports said.

The last local council elections were held in the region in 1994. The government has not been able to hold elections in the region due to escalating violence between LTTE and security forces.


Grenade attacks on Muslim traders in Vazhaichcheanai

Unidentified persons hurled a hand grenade Friday early morning at 3:10a.m. at the residence of a Muslim business man, located in Semma’nodai, Oddamaavadi within Vazhaichcheanai police division in Batticaloa district, Vaazhaichcheanai police said. In a similar incident Wednesday night 10:45 p.m., residence of another Muslim trader near Hyrath Mosque came under grenade attack, according to police.

The grenade thrown at the residence of K.M.Aatham Bawa, located on Moulana Road damaged a portion of the house and destroyed some furniture. The residents were asleep at the time of the attack, but survived without any injuries, sources said.

Police have commenced investigation to find the motive for the attack and identify the attackers.

No arrests have yet been made related this incident.

Meanwhile, in another attack targeting the residence of another Muslim trader, A.L.M.Ismail, Wednesday in Vazhaichcheanai area, part of the house was destroyed but none of the occupants were hurt, police said.

Ismail is an active supporter of Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, (SLMC) and the attack was likely due to political rivalry, regional sources said.

Vaazhaichcheanai police have commenced investigations but no arrests have been made

Vazhaichcheanai is located 32 k.m. North of Batticaloa.

Source: Tamilnet

Air Force targets LTTE base, 50 killed in Lanka clashes

In stepped-up fighting, Sri Lankan security forces gunned down at least 43 Tamil Tigers and lost seven soldiers in the island's restive north, where the Air Force jets today raided an LTTE transport base in the rebel-dominated Kilinochchi area.

The aerial raid targeted the LTTE base located at two kms southwest of the depot junction in Selvanagar in Kilinochchi, the Defence Ministry said.

The raid was launched based on information received through intelligence sources and air surveillances conducted for a long period, Air Force spokesperson Wing Commander Andy Wijesooriya said.

The pilots confirmed that the target was accurately hit, he said.

In ground clashes, at least nine Tigers were killed in south of Adampan in northwestern Mannar after troops destroyed seven LTTE bunkers yesterday, the Defence Ministry said.

In another incident, troops gunned down five rebels in Muhamale in Jaffna peninsula yesterday, the army said.

One army officer and a solder were killed in Muhamalai yesterday due to an explosion of an Improvised Explosive Device, the Media Centre for National Security (MCNS) said.

It said that two rebels were killed in Navathkulam in northern Vavuniya yesterday while two women Tigers were gunned down in Kallikulam.

At Periyapandisurichchan in Vavuniya, army snipers deployed in the defence line killed an LTTE cadre.

On the Mannar front, troops stationed at Vannakulam came under heavy mortar shelling by LTTE cadres last evening resulting in the killing of two soldiers and injuries to two others, the Defence Ministry said. In Periyakulam area of Mannar, troops killed at least 10 guerrillas in a fierce battle yesterday, the MCNS said, adding two army men lost their lives in the incident while six others suffered injuries.

On the Welioya front in Jaffna, troops confronted with a group of rebels resulting in death of one soldier and injuries to another, the Defence Ministry said.

In an area north of Janakapura, troops said they killed two LTTE cadres.

In another incident in the north of Kiribbanwewa, one rebels was killed in a clash yesterday, the LTTE radio transmission revealed.

While two rebels were gunned down in Adankulam yesterday, at least six others were killed in the same area later in the day in clashes with the army, the MCNS said.

Separately, an LTTE cadre was shot dead in Pandivirichchan area of Mannar yesterday and two other rebels were gunned down in Marathamodai in Vavuniya, the MCNS said.

Meanwhile, decomposed bodies of at least 16 civilians, hacked to death by suspected LTTE rebels, were found buried in Kriketuwewa area in north central Sri Lanka.

"Police have found several bodies of youth dumped in a swamp at Kiriketuwewa on the Horoupathana - Kebithigollawa road by suspected LTTE militants on Thursday evening," a defence ministry statement said today.

The victims are believed to be a group of civilians who had gone searching for their cattle, it said. Initially the incident was reported to the police by the civilians in the area, the statement said, adding the victims were apparently "hacked to death".


Lanka should remove defence system in Palk strait: MDMK

CHENNAI: MDMK leader Vaiko on Friday demanded that the Centre ask the Sri Lanka government to remove the underwater defence system set up across the Palk strait on the International Maritime Boundary Line.

In a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, a copy of which was made available to the media, Vaiko said the system would damage and destroy the fishing boats of Indian fishermen.

He said the Sri Lankan navy had communicated to the Indian Navy to inform Tamil Nadu fishermen not to venture out for fishing between Kachatheevu and Neduntheeve in the Palk strait, as mines had been placed.

"This high-handed action of Sri Lanka government is a naked aggression into the domain of our sovereign rights in International waters," he said.

India ceded Kachatheevu to Sri Lanka, which itself was "wrong and unjustifiable", he said, adding when the island was given to Sri Lanka as per an agreement, Indian fishermen were given the fishing rights there.

"But, like a bolt from the blue, the Sri Lanka government has dared to set up an underwater defence system, with malicious aim to curtail the rights of Indian fishermen. There is a sinister design behind this move to threaten and prevent the suffering Tamils of Sri Lanka to reach Tamil Nadu as refugees," he said.

If the Sri Lanka government refused to remove the system, India should take steps to nullify the Kachatheevu agreement, he said.

Source: Times of India

UK jails ex-S.Lanka Tiger Karuna for ID fraud

By Peter Apps

LONDON, Jan 25 (Reuters) - Britain sentenced renegade ex-Sri Lankan Tamil Tiger rebel Karuna Amman to nine months in prison on Friday for identity document fraud and now rights groups hope he will face additional war crimes charges. The ex-eastern Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) commander is accused by rights groups of torture, abductions, killings and child soldier recruitment both before and after splitting from the mainstream rebels in 2004. Analysts say he switched his support to the government, and rights groups accuse security forces of turning a blind eye to his actions before his own group ousted him last year and he fled to Britain. British officials say they have asked Sri Lanka how Karuna -- real name V. Muralitharan -- was able to acquire an apparently genuine Sri Lankan diplomatic passport under a false name. The Metropolitan police and immigration authorities arrested him in London late last year and he pleaded guilty to magistrates before Christmas. "He has been sentenced to nine months in prison for holding false identity documents," a court official told Reuters. "He has already served 32 days on remand." The maximum sentence would have been two years but rights groups had feared he might just be fined and leave the country. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers and others have called for Karuna to be charged in Britain for a variety of war crimes but campaigners say witnesses have been reluctant to come forward. They hope the fact Karuna is behind bars will boost their confidence -- but with extra-judicial killings still widespread in Sri Lanka with the resumption of civil war and international criticism of poor witness protection, many are still seen to be too scared to testify. The Sri Lankan government has always denied links to Karuna and said it was happy for the British legal system to take its course. Officials have furiously denied rights abuse charges and refused calls for United Nations human rights monitoring. Karuna and his group the TMVP -- now under new leadership -- also deny abuse claims and say they are fighting to liberate ethnic Tamils from the clutches of the Tigers, banned as terrorists in Britain, Europe, North America and India. TMVP attacks on the mainstream Tigers were seen as a factor in pushing the island back into an all-out war that has killed more than 70,000 over two decades.

Source: Reuters

Sri Lankan Power-Sharing Plan Proposes Interim Council in North

By Paul Tighe

Jan. 25 (Bloomberg) -- Sri Lanka should create an interim council in the Northern Province where the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam has its bases as a first step toward settling the issue of Tamil separatism, an all-party forum said.

The conflict with the LTTE makes holding elections impossible in the mainly Tamil north ``in the near future'' and an interim council should be appointed by the president that reflects the ethnic character of the area, the All Party Representative Committee recommended.

The proposals are to meet the aspirations of the people and aren't ``aimed at meeting the demands of the LTTE,'' Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama said yesterday, according to a statement on the government's Web site.

The Tamil Tigers, who are fighting for a separate homeland, now hold bases only in the north after they were driven from the eastern region in July. The all-party committee said security has improved so elections can be held in the Eastern Province, where the government is seeking $1.8 billion in international aid to develop the region.

A 1987 constitutional amendment on creating provincial councils is the basis for the power-sharing proposals, the APRC said in a report presented to Rajapaksa two days ago, according to the government's Web site. The amendment was part of a peace accord signed with India when it sent peacekeeping soldiers to the island.

The plan ``envisages an interim arrangement pending the restoration of democratically elected provincial councils in the north and east,'' the committee said.

Minority Groups

The government should oversee the passing of laws providing for the protection of the Tamil language and those of other minority communities, by bringing translators and interpreters into law courts and the police force. Ethnic Sinhalese minorities in the north and east should receive the same benefits, the committee said.

Rajapaksa's government rejects any peace settlement that would divide the country of 20 million people where Tamils make up 11.9 percent of the population and Sinhalese almost 74 percent, according to a 2001 census.

The LTTE, designated a terrorist organization by the U.S., European Union and India, rejected the constitutional amendment in 1988, saying it left too much power with the national Parliament.

India's government said the APRC's proposals are a ``welcome first step'' toward a settlement, according to a statement from New Delhi yesterday.

``It has consistently been our view that a settlement of the issues in Sri Lanka is to be done by the Sri Lankan people themselves in a manner acceptable to all communities within the framework of a united Sri Lanka,'' the Indian government said.

Course of Action

The APRC's proposals identify a course of action to meet the aspirations of minorities through ``maximum and effective devolution of power,'' Bogollagama said in Colombo yesterday.

He earlier briefed the U.S., Japan, EU and Norway, the countries leading a group of donor nations for Sri Lanka, on the APRC's plan, the government said.

The donor nations told Rajapaksa there can be no military solution to the conflict in the South Asian island nation after his government ended a 2002 cease-fire with the LTTE on Jan. 16. Rajapaksa, in a speech three days ago, said he wanted a political settlement. ``However, when it comes to terrorism, I think it is necessary to defeat it,'' he said.

LTTE Attacked

The military has attacked the LTTE's bases in the north since winning control of the eastern region. It has also targeted the LTTE leadership in recent months.

Velupillai Prabhakaran, the LTTE leader, was wounded in an air raid in November, according to the government, and the head of the political wing was killed in an air strike two months ago. The LTTE military intelligence chief was killed Jan. 6.

The Tamil Tigers said their forces repulsed an army offensive at Ma'nalaa'ru in the north late yesterday, TamilNet reported on its Web site.

Police found the bodies of 17 civilians shot dead near the northern town of Vavuniya yesterday, TamilNet said. The victims were found with their hands tied behind their backs, it said.

The Ministry of Defense said several bodies of young people were found near a road late yesterday and LTTE terrorists were suspected of the killings. The ministry didn't say how many bodies were found.

Source: Bloomberg

Lanka invites Indians to build new airport

Sri Lanka wants builders of Cochin International Airport to construct an airport in that country. Talks on the proposal will begin in Colombo on January 28.

The Cochin airport is India's first airport built under a public-private partnership. The Kerala government and several NRIs hold stakes in Cochin International Airport Ltd (CIAL), which built the airport and operates it.

A seven-member CIAL delegation led by its managing director S. Bharath will hold talks with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and other Lankan leaders on the proposal.

"The invitation for this came from Rajapaksa and we have taken this opportunity with a lot of excitement," Bharath said. The talks will be spread over six days from January 28, he said.

Bharath said CIAL is ready to provide a full turnkey solution for the proposed airport in Sri Lanka.

"If what they want is just the building of the airport, we are prepared for that and if they want us to take care of the operations part also, we are ready for that too. We are ready for what they want," he said.

It was almost two years ago that Rajapaksa mooted the idea of CIAL building an airport in his country when he flew to Kochi en route to Guruvayoor.

Since then CIAL and the Sri Lankan government have exchanged letters on the issue, resulting in a formal invitation from the Sri Lankan president for talks, Bharath said.

CIAL has been making profits since its inception in 1999 and is all set for major expansion with 18 projects, which include a Rs.6.4-billion ($162 million) IT park, an aviation academy, a maintenance and hangar unit, hotels and a golf course. These are to come up on 500 acres in its possession.

The Kerala government holds 35.56 percent in CIAL, the company's directors 37 percent, and public sector banks and public sector organisations like Air India 10.61 percent, while NRIs and the general public have 14.63 percent. Private commercial banks hold a two percent stake in the company.



Source: Defencewire


Source: Percy/

Government 'will consider grievances of all Tamils'

By Neena Gopal, Special to Gulf News

Bangalore: A senior minister in Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse's cabinet said yesterday his government would "take the grievances of all democratically minded Tamil people on board" in evolving a political solution to the country's war between separatist Tamil Tigers and government forces.

Keheliya Rambukwella, Sri Lanka's Minister for Foreign Employment, promotion and welfare, in the UAE on a visit, was commenting on proposals submitted by the All Party Representative Committee (APRC) to the president which recommended the full implementation of the 13th amendment - the setting up of provincial councils and a greater devolution of powers to the provinces.

It has been criticised by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in the past as discriminatory.

The 13th amendment was the brainchild of prime minister Rajiv Gandhi and Sri Lankan President Junius Jaywardene and never implemented, he said.

"Although any amendments to the constitution require a two-thirds majority, I am confident it will go ahead," he added referring to the support needed from the opposition United National Party and Sinhala nationalist Jathika Hela Urumaya to get the amendment passed.

The APRC proposals are "in the same spirit" as the peace proposals by previous governments headed by President Chandrika Kumaratunga and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, he said.

The Rajapakse government has worked closely with the international community and particularly India on working out power sharing between the centre and the states. "India has a very strong devolution model," he said, adding that "one way or the other we will decide what political and administrative powers must be granted to each. After years of conflict, it is time to join hands, to give and take."

In a nod to addressing the alienation since the fifties of educated Tamils who resented Sinhala becoming the national language he said his government was even willing to re-examine the feasibility of making English the national language alongside Sinhala and Tamil.

The minister's comments come on the back of a sustained war of attrition to reduce the separatist Tamil Tigers' military capability and the controversial cancellation of a five year long ceasefire agreement (CFA) that has seen a spike in violence.

Rambukwella says "the CFA was never what it should have been". He said: "Prabhakaran (the Tiger supremo) used the piece of paper to advantage at various international forums, never intending to adhere to the deal.

"The Rajapakse government decided it would give the CFA a chance. We went in for two rounds of talks at Geneva but when the Tigers made an attempt on the army chief we felt we should get out of the CFA and liberate the Tamils, terrorised by the LTTE as we have done in the east where Tamils, Muslims and Sinhalese live in harmony."

- Neena Gopal is an analyst on Asia.

Secretive: Brain trust targeted

"First there were five. Now there are three. I assure you we will get all three, - Prabhakaran, Soosai (head of the Tiger navy) and Pottu Amman," said Keheliya Rambukwella, Sri Lanka's Minister for Foreign Employment of his government's targeting of the Liberation Tigers for Tamil Eelam's secretive brain trust.

His famed "there are no good terrorists or bad terrorists, a terrorist is a terrorist" quote when the country's air force killed the head of the Tigers' political wing S.P. Tamilchelvam whom many mistakenly described as a "peace dove", made headlines.

"Why should we spare him [Prabhakaran], has he spared anyone? Not the leaders, nor people of this country, other countries, not respected Tamils, not his colleagues. He must be eradicated."

"If Prabhakaran is caught alive, yes, we will hand him over to India to face charges in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. That is a promise we have made to India, it is a promise we will keep."


Government package, a deceptive farce- UNP

* Accuses govt. of deceiving people
* APRC held 64 sessions but 13th Amendment was discussed only on last two occasions
* No credible power-sharing formula to end ethnic conflict, says UNP frontliner

By Kelum Bandara

Main opposition UNP in a hard-hitting statement yesterday, accused the government of deceiving the people of this country and the international community by using the 13th Amendment as the basis for resolving the longstanding ethnic conflict instead of a credible power sharing formula.

UNP front-liner Lakshman Kiriella told a news conference the government had pledged to resolve the crisis with a consensual political solution of all the southern political parties.

Mr. Kiriella said the All Party Representative Committee (APRC) set up for this purpose held 64 sessions but strangely enough it was only on the last two occasions that the 13th Amendment was discussed.

“It was only at the request of President Mahinda Rajapaksa that the APRC began discussing the 13th Amendment.

The proposals submitted by the APRC on an earlier occasion were dismissed by the government. Later APRC Chairman Tissa Vitarana presented a report which too was rejected. Eventually, the President opted for the 13th Amendment as a way out of this impasse,” he said.

Mr. Kiriella said this constitutional amendment was introduced in 1987 and therefore there was no need for the government to seek the support of other parties to fully implement it.

“The 13th Amendment is already enshrined in Sri Lanka’s Constitution. The government need not ask us about implementing it. All this goes to show that the APRC was acting out a farce. The proposals have been put forward to mislead the people and the international community,” he said.

He said the minutes of the 64 sessions of the APRC ran into more than 11,000 pages but nowhere is any reference to the 13th Amendment as a means of resolving the ethnic crisis.

“We do not know how the 13th Amendment can at this time be helpful in addressing the grievances of minority communities,” he said.

Mr. Kiriella it was ridiculous to think of the SLFP presenting a power sharing formula when it even committed a blunder by agitating for the withdrawal of the Indian Peace Keeping Forces (IPKF) in the 1980s. “When the former SLFP leader and Prime Minister the late Sirimavo Bandaranaike sat down for a protest fast near the Pettah Bo-Tree agitating for the withdrawal of the IPKF, Mr. Rajapaksa also sat beside her,” he said.
He said the IPKF was sent back at a time when it had cornered the LTTE.
“Had it continued to be here for a few more months, the problem could have been resolved,” Mr. Kiriella said.

Source: Dailymirror

LTTE fighting its last battle says President

By Sandun A Jayasekera

The LTTE is fighting its last battle and the security forces are continuing their fight to emancipate the country and the people of the north and east from terrorism. Meanwhile the government is engaged in finding a durable solution to the ethnic problem through democratic means, said President Rajapaksa yesterday.

Delivering the keynote address at the Gallantry Awards Presentation Ceremony of the three armed forces at the BMICH, he further said that the security forces had proved that terrorism was not undefeatable.

“There was a time when the people had been made to believe that the security forces could not win the war against the terrorists. But our forces have proved otherwise. The security forces have won on every front. The march against terrorism cannot be turned back; today the Army, Navy and Air Force are undefeatable,” said the President.

“When the Government honours the heroic deeds of armed forces personnel, we get the feeling of our forefathers like Puran Appu, Gongalegoda Banda and Kudapola Thera who rose against foreign powers. Those who are to receive gallantry awards have followed in the footsteps of their forefathers, and it is a pleasure and honour to recognize their dedication to their motherland and present them with medals,” he said.

“The armed forces personnel are fighting to protect their motherland, their fellow countrymen and their mothers, brothers and sisters. And the Government expects it of them. The terrorists have exposed their brutality and inhuman nature by firing at the innocent people who were injured in the bomb blast and were crying out for help at Buttala. The brutality of the LTTE knows no bounds.

They have murdered not only political leaders, academics, mothers and sisters but also world leaders like Rajiv Gandhi,” he said.

“The entire country, Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims and Burghers, are appealing to the government to crush terrorism and bring lasting peace to the country. The Government has the capability and strength to do that. While the armed forces are continuing their struggle to eradicate terrorism from the country, the Government is taking measures to provide a durable solution to the ethnic problem through political dialogue, he said, adding that victory was not far away.

President Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayaka awarded 15 Weera Vibhushana, 115 Ranawickrama and 919 Ranasoora medals. 147 of them were awarded posthumously or to persons missing in action. President’s Secretary Lalith Weeratunga, Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, the Chief of Defence Staff and the armed forces commanders were present at the ceremony.

Source: Dailymirror

APRC proposals an important step, says Rajapaksa

B. Muralidhar Reddy

COLOMBO: Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has described the “proposals” submitted to him by the All Party Representative Committee (APRC) on measures for the full implementation of the provisions of the Constitution for a political solution to the ethnic question as an “auspicious and important initial step.”

Receiving the proposals from APRC Chairman Thissa Vitharana on Wednesday, Mr. Rajapaksa said the government and the political parties that supported it undertook the responsibility to fully implement the proposals. He said they all had a responsibility to ensure the rights of all people to enjoy freedom without fear irrespective of race, religious, political and other differences.

He called on all parties to shed narrow differences and come together with due consideration for the people, to provide a suitable political solution to the political issue, while looking at a different solution to the problem of terrorism.

In a speech made at the presentation ceremony, Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) president V. Anandasangaree said his party and its allies were extending support for the implementation of the 13th Amendment in full, as a first step before a final solution is recommended by the APRC. The TULF leader said his party and its allies had joined the “historic assembly that could be described as the Constituent Assembly” as a first step to bring peace to the bleeding nation and to its people. “We have joined this assembly today to show our solidarity on behalf of the Tamil people, for the re-birth of a nation where we the Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims, Malays, Burgers and members of all the other small groups live as equals in all respects, in a society where one is in no way superior or inferior to the other.”

The main opposition United National Party (UNP) said only it could offer pragmatic solutions. The 13th Amendment, the District Council Bills and the Provincial Council Bills were its measures to solve the problem. Neither the JVP nor the SLFP had ever brought forth any solution. Rather, they have only sabotaged its attempts, said a spokesperson of the party. He alleged that when the Indian Peace keeping Force (IPKF) came in 1987 and the 13th amendment was introduced, the SLFP and the JVP staged massive protests against them.

“If the IPKF has continued in Sri Lanka for a further month, even Prabakaran would have been captured. And, mind you this was all done at Indian government expense without the war becoming a burden on Sri Lanka’s finances,” he said.

The Sri Lanka Democratic Forum (SLDF) in a statement rejected the APRC’s announcement on the Amendment as the interim arrangement. It charged that the President and the ruling party had singularly failed to show even a semblance of leadership.

Forest damaged: LTTE

A day after the military claimed to have bombed an LTTE location frequented by its leader Velupillai Prabakaran, the Tigers on Thursday accused the Air Force of carrying out three sorties — spread over 20 hours — over Ambalahamam forest area in Kilinochchi and destroying a vast extent of forest in the extensive bombing. In a statement on its website, the LTTE said 10 hectares had been damaged as the Air Force dropped more than 16 bombs.

Separately, the military claimed that at least 22 LTTE cadres and a solder were killed in the Jaffna and Wanni defences.

Source: The Hindu

Diplomatic community hails APRC consensus

Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama asserted yesterday that foreign diplomats had endorsed APRC proposals as a positive beginning for seeking sustainable peace.

Addressing the media, Bogollagama said he had taken steps to brief the diplomatic community including the Co-Chairs and the Indian HC, immediately after President Mahinda Rajapaksa received the set of proposals officially, from APRC Chairman Prof. Tissa Vitarana.

“In assessing these proposals, it is important that the international community recognise that these are not proposals aimed at meeting the demands of the LTTE, but at meeting the aspirations of the long suffering people of the North and East.

Its significant that these are implementable steps in a continuing process for greater devolution of power, with the objective of achieving a final and durable political settlement acceptable to all communities in Sri Lanka,” he said.

Hailing the effort as a historic step in Sri Lanka’s 60 years of independence, where consensus was reached to devolve power to the North and East through a democratic consultation, the Minister said all parties who participated in the process had attributed the success to the pragmatic leadership of President Rajapaksa and to the untiring efforts of Prof.Vitarana.

Elaborating on the proposals, he said these would include full implementation of relevant provisions of the present Constitution. It has also sought to identify a course of action to achieve maximum and effective devolution of power to the provinces to meet the aspirations of the minorities including the Tamil speaking people and other communities, especially ones living in the North and East, he noted.

Elaborating on the basic steps envisaged to overcome the existing shortcomings with regard to devolution of power, the Minister said that implementing the 13th Amendment fully was one such factor. Overcoming shortcomings especially through adequate funding of the Provincial Councils was another important aspect.

Holding elections in the East should also be considered a priority..

Also envisaged is the full implementation of Chapter Four of the Constitution on language which includes recruitment according to ethnic proportions. He further added that it was a new approach and a pragmatic way forward following a series of failed attempts.

The momentum generated by working together, would enable all communities to build trust, which is a pre-requisite to embark on greater reforms he added. While describing the APRC as a continuing process in exploring additional proposals the Minister said that the proposals had received the concurrence of all stakeholders and they were awaiting a positive response from other parties as well.

He added it was the duty of all who value democracy and humanity to support the process to achieve sustainable peace and ethnic harmony in the country.


TMVP first armed group to receive political recognition ...

by Shamindra Ferdinando

The government yesterday dismissed UNP and Opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe’s recent claim that the TMVP (Thamil Makkal Viduthalai Pullikal) was the first Tamil armed group given the political recognition.

"An absolute lie," a senior official said while accusing the UNP and the TNA (Tamil National Alliance) of trying to undermine forthcoming local government elections in the Batticaloa district.

Pillayan, a hardcore ex-LTTE cadre seized control of the renegade outfit, which was once loyal to Karuna, who now faces the prospect of a jail term in the UK.

The official said that the TMVP wouldn’t be able to lay down arms as long as the LTTE carried weapons. "Without arms, TMVP cadres would be vulnerable," he said while recalling President JR Jayewardene’s decision to issue hundreds of weapons to all registered political parties including the UNP, SLFP and now defunct USA (United Socialist Alliance) to face the JVP challenge in the late 80s.

The UNP had conveniently forgotten the political recognition given to the LTTE during Ranasinghe Premadasa’s tenure as President, sources said.

Addressing a gathering of party activists at Sirikotha on Tuesday (22) Wickremesinghe said that this would be the first time an armed group was registered as a political party. He warned that the forthcoming elections would be marred by violence due to the TMVP factor.

US Ambassador Robert Blake during a visit to Batticaloa reiterated Wickremesinghe’s concerns. He emphasized the urgent need to disarm all armed groups operating in the East.

A senior official with the Elections Department Wednesday told The Island that the PFLT (People’s Front of Liberation Tigers)-the political wing of the LTTE, which was recognised by the then Polls Commissioner Chandrananda de Silva, remained a registered political party.

This writer covered the press briefing given by LTTE ideologue Anton Balasingham on December 20, 1989, at the Colombo Hilton where the advisor to the newly formed political front revealed that their flag would be red of rectangular shape with the Tiger emblem in the middle. Mahattaya, Velupillai Prabhakaran’s second-in-command was named the President of the PFLT and Yogiratnam Yogi its General Secretary.

Flanked by armed LTTE bodyguards, Balasingham and Yogi declared that they wouldn’t lay down their arms until the IPKF pulled out of Sri Lanka. The LTTE had written to Polls Chief on December 4, 1989 and received political recognition on December 19.

This was done at the behest of President Premadasa, government sources said. The UNP leader couldn’t have been unaware of this, the sources said. The political recognition followed the double assassination of TULF leader A. Amirthalingam and Vettivelu Yogeswaran at the latter’s Colombo residence.

Military sources said that political recognition was given in the midst of a bloody LTTE campaign in the North and East where it hunted down the TNA (Tamil National Army) created by the IPKF and TELO, PLOTE, EPRLF and EPDP cadres. The LTTE received arms, ammunition and equipment from the government while security forces received strict instructions not to interfere with the LTTE action, the sources said. In fact, security forces provided tactical support for LTTE units to carry out massacres, the sources said.

The LTTE which won political recognition to contest the North East Provincial Council forced Premadasa to dissolve it, the sources said. The LTTE/PFLT continued killings with impunity. The victims included M. Mansoor, a member of the North East Provincial Council.

Chandrananda also recognised TELO, PLOTE, EPRLF and EPDP as political parties despite all of them retaining arms, during Premadasa’s administration. This came about after the LTTE resumed hostilities in June 1990 thereby forcing the UNP to forge an alliance with Tamil groups which it helped the LTTE to target.

Source: Island