Sri Lanka rejects LTTE truce offer, responses differ

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 22 July 2008, 04:15 GMT]
Sri Lanka’s government Tuesday rejected the Tamil Tigers offer of a unilateral ceasefire for the period of the SAARC conference (Jul 26 to Aug 4). But senior officials of the Colombo government gave different responses as to the government stance on the truce offer, announced formally by the LTTE Political Wing on Monday.

"The Government of Sri Lanka is not prepared for ceasefire with the LTTE", the state controlled Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC) announced Tuesday morning in all three languages, quoting Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, the defense secretary and a brother of the Sri Lankan President Mahnda Rajapaksa.

"The ceasefire announcement is a ploy by the LTTE when it is being militarily weakened in the war front, to strengthen it militarily under the guise of holding negotiation. There is no need for the government to enter into a ceasefire agreement with the LTTE" the SLBC quoted as Gothabaya Rajapakse as saying.

"If we have to believe the LTTE they should first disarm themselves and then surrender," Defense Secretary was also quoted as saying in the government media.

Meanwhile Dr.Rajiva Wijesinghe, Secretary General of the Government Peace Secretariat (SCOPP) was quoted as saying that the GoSL would wait and see if the LTTE’s offer would come through peace-facilitator Norway.

"We need peace. We will wait and see if they will make the offer to us directly or through Norway (the peace facilitator), if they (LTTE) are serious about it," Wijesinghe told AFP.

"They (LTTE) has offered similar things in the past and militarily beefed up their capabilities. We need to be careful," Wijesinghe said.

The Rajapakse government had earlier rejected continued involvement in the Sri Lankan conflict by Norway and had denounced Oslo’s six year peace facilitation.

Meanwhile Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollegama had earlier vowed the government will not even respond to the LTTE’s offer of a ceasefire.

"We will not respond to it," Bogollegama told parliament Tuesday, AFP reported. "It has no binding on us."

At least two similar truce offers were made by the Tigers between 1994 and 2001, which were rejected by the then Sri Lankan government.

In 2002, the LTTE made another offer, which was accepted and reciprocated by the then United National Party (UNP) led government, leading to negotiations which resulted in the landmark Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) of 2002.

The Rajapakse government formally abrogated the CFA in January 2008, two years after commencing full scale military offensives against the LTTE.

The LTTE’s formal offer a ceasefire for the SAARC conference comes after senior leaders of the movement gave assurances they would not disrupt the event, being held in Colombo amid the Rajapakse government’s all out war against the Tigers.

“We believe that the other countries in the SAARC group will support us in our just struggle for the freedom of the Tamil people,” the Head of the LTTE Political Wing, P. Nadesan, told The Sunday Leader newspaper last week.

Amid Sri Lankan government claims that the LTTE was hostile to India, the regional hegemon, senior LTTE leader K.V. Balakumaran, told the Austalia-based Cheythi Alaika'l radio:

“We have said clearly Tamil Eelam is not against India; we will uphold Indian welfare as our own. There was a time, when India looked after our welfare as her own. India will change its current policy towards us one day. We believe firmly, our strong cultural ties to our brothers and sisters in India will help their policy makers to select a just and fair path towards our people. [But] we cannot wait for India’s change of mind to continue with our liberation. One fact should be clear, no one should doubt our friendship, and strong ties to India.”


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