Tamils seek new agenda

Tamil Tiger rebels on Friday sought a radical overhaul of Sri Lanka’s peace agenda, declining to discuss the federal government’s latest proposal of an interim administrative structure for the north and east of the country.

    The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE or Tamil Tigers, in short)  turned down Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's offer to discuss an "interim administrative council" and said they would only join talks when the government unveils a "practical

    conceptual framework."

      

    The Tigers' London-based chief peace negotiator Anton Balasingham said Wickremesinghe failed to elaborate details of the latest proposal for an interim council.

     

    Balasingham (L): Firm
    conditions for talks

    "We will insist on a radical overhaul of the entire peace process," Balasingham said in remarks to the pro-rebel Tamilnet.com website. "We want a new, redefined agenda. We will discuss this matter with the Norwegian (peace) facilitators," he added.

     

    Balasingham said, however, that it was not prudent for the Tigers to be involved in defining the scope of the council, but that they were keen to see what the government would come up with.

      

    Operating within the confines of an entrenched constitution and facing a hostile President, Wickremesinghe’s administration is resistant to offer anything substantial in the form of an interim administration, Balasingham said.

      

    "It is precisely for this reason we are calling upon the government to come out with its ideas," he added.

     

    In an address to the nation on Thursday, Wickremesinghe said the government hoped to establish an interim administrative council, conceding a key Tiger demand for reviving the stalled peace bid.

     

    LTTE participation

      

    Wickremesinghe said his government was committed to opening negotiations with Tigers on the proposed council and hoped the Tigers would return to talks.

      

    The prime minister said he wanted the LTTE to actively participate in reconstruction and rehabilitation work in the northern and eastern regions.

      

    The government also suggested that the Tigers take part in finalising the scope and the composition of a proposed council.

      

    The Norwegian-brokered peace talks have remained deadlocked since April following the Tamil Tigers’ demand for an interim council with political powers ahead of a final

    settlement to a conflict that has claimed more than 60,000 lives since 1972. 

     

    The conflict was sparked off by a movement for an independent “Eelam” state in the Tamil-majority north and east of the country.


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