LTTE opposed to referendum
[TamilNet, Friday, 04 April 2003, 10:04 GMT]
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam Friday dismissed as “illogical, impractical and unnecessary” Sri Lankan government suggestions for an island-wide referendum on the ongoing peace initiative. Pointing out that the government had already got a resounding mandate from the people of Sri Lanka for peace, the LTTE’s Chief Negotiator, Mr. Anton Balasingham, said that his movement was totally opposed to a plebiscite at this stage to reaffirm public endorsement.
“It is meaningless to ask the people for an opinion at this stage when sufficient progress has not been made on core political issues,” Mr. Balasingham told TamilNet.
Press reports Friday quoted Sri Lanka’s Chief Negotiator, Prof. G. L. Peiris, as saying the United National Front (UNF) government is “earnestly considering” holding a non-binding referendum on the Norwegian peace initiative.
Commenting on the government proposal, Mr. Balasingham told TamilNet that a referendum on the peace process was unworkable as a significant proportion of the Tamil people in the island are unable to vote.
“A referendum is impractical in the Tamil areas. A million Tamils are refugees abroad and another million are internally displaced and efforts to resettle the IDPS are proceeding very slowly,” he told TamilNet, adding that these voters’ absence would render the elections meaningless.
“We are surprised at the government’s announcement of these proposals without discussing the matter with us,” Mr. Balasingham further said.
“We have been repeatedly assured by the government, even at the last round [in Hakone, Japan] that it has the overwhelming support of the Sinhala people for the peace process,” Mr. Balasingham said. “In the light of these assurances, we feel a referendum is illogical and unnecessary.”