Kumaratunga: No self-respecting
government agrees to proposal

Kumaratunga said she would not accept the Tigers’ demand to set up an interim administration in areas under their control. 


“I have not heard of any self-respecting sovereign government anywhere in the world agreeing to act outside of its own constitution at the request of anyone”, said Kumaratunga late on Friday.


The Tigers’ proposal was a pre-condition to end the deadlock in the peace talks between the government and the rebel group.


The Tigers have been fighting for three decades to win a separate country in the north and east of the island.


If anybody is mad enough to think that the government

would even dream of considering it, they must be mad," she said at a dinner with foreign media.


Kumaratunga is a rival to the government of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe which has not yet responded to the Tamil proposal.


The government has been calling on the Tigers to attend a key donor conference to be held next month in Tokyo where aid will be pledged to rebuild the country.


Outside mediators


Norway, which brokered a February 2002 ceasefire, and Japan have also been urging the Tigers to participate in the 9-10 June meeting.


The Sri Lankan president accused Norwegians of compromising the sovereignty of the island, saying Norway was called in as a “facilitator” in bringing the Tigers to the negotiating table, but not to be “a mediator or arbitrator.”


Kumaratunga also criticised Japan for efforts it made to persuade the Tigers to participate in the aid conference. She said the Japanese government told her the role it had was “strictly and exclusively a role to advise the government of Sri Lanka on development of the north-east (region)”.


Japan has said the conference would go ahead, expecting to raise $3 billion over three years.


Government blamed


Kumaratunga also accused Wickremesinghe of dealing with the Tigers in an unprofessional way. "Perhaps it is the lack of professional handling of this issue that has led to this, and I hope it will not lead to anything further," she said.


However, the president said she was ready to make constitutional changes if the rebels " are willing to give up terrorism...willing to give up their call for a separate state and go in for a democratic, negotiated settlement."