U.S condemns killing of Batticaloa candidate

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 02 March 2004, 12:09 GMT]
State Department Spokesperson, Richard Boucher, has condemned the killing of Sinnathamby Sunderampillai, a candidate in Sri Lanka's upcoming parliamentary elections. "Although no one has claimed responsibility for the crime, we note recent statements by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam that were clearly intended to discourage Tamil candidates of whom they did not approve," Boucher said in a statement issued March 1 in Washington. Sri Lanka police, however, say the matter is under investigation and declined to blame LTTE.

Leaders of the LTTE have previously stated that they will not interfere in the elections and that the polls will be free and fair.

"We will not interfere in the general elections in the east. The polls will be free and fair here. We are living in a modern, changing world. We have to be in tune with the times. Sinhala leaders who may come to power should grasp this and think progressively about settling the ethnic problem by peaceful means," Col. Karuna said.

Thamilchelvan, head of the Political Wing of the LTTE, refuting a report in which he was quoted as saying that Sinhala parties cannot contest in the northeast, said: "Sinhala parties can contest anywhere in the northeast. It is their freedom to do so. I only said that the Tamils might not prefer Sinhala parties."

Full text of the statement by Richard Boucher, spokesperson for the U.S Department of State follows:

"U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE Office of the Spokesman March 1, 2004

STATEMENT BY RICHARD BOUCHER, SPOKESMAN

Killing in Sri Lanka Election Campaign

The United States condemns the killing in the eastern city of Batticaloa on March 1 of a candidate, Sinnathamby Sunderpillai [sic], in Sri Lanka's upcoming parliamentary elections. Although no one has claimed responsibility for the crime, we note recent statements by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam that were clearly intended to discourage Tamil candidates of whom they did not approve.

We reiterate the call made by the donor co-chairs of the Tokyo process during their meeting in Washington on February 17 that parliamentary elections be conducted in an atmosphere free of political violence. We urge the Tamil Tigers to act responsibly during and after the election campaign. Violent actions of this sort raise doubts about their commitment to a political solution and illustrate why the Tamil Tigers remain on the U.S. list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO).

The United States calls on the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam to renounce terrorism and cease terrorist acts, including political assassination, and to comply with the terms of the ceasefire agreement they signed."


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