Sri Lanka chief negotiator’s stand absurd- PA

[TamilNet, Friday, 10 January 2003, 10:48 GMT]
Sri Lanka’s main opposition party Friday said the stand taken by Colombo’s chief negotiator Prof. G. L Peiris on the question of high security zones in Jaffna was “absurd” and claimed that it is not endorsed by the Sri Lankan armed forces.

Dr. Sarath Amunugama, the spokesman for the People’s Alliance, addressing a press conference in Colombo Friday insisted that the Tigers should decommission their arms before the Sri Lankan armed forces could consider moving out of the villages and towns they occupy in the northern peninsula.

PA press briefing.
People’s Alliance spokesman Dr. Sarath Amunugama addressing the press briefing Friday at the opposition leader’s office in Colombo with People’s Alliance parliamentarian and former minister, Mr. Nimal Siripala de Silva (right).
“Unfortunately Prof. G. L Peiris whose knowledge of military strategy is zero has not made any connection between the two”, Dr. Amunugama said.

He criticized the United National Front (UNF) government’s decision to defer the question of high security zones and the question LTTE’s decommissioning.

“Under no circumstances, as has been pointed out by the army to the government, can we jeopardize the safety and security of our armed forces station in these two places (Palaly and Kankesanthurai in Jaffna). The government’s writ is maintained in the northern peninsula through these two points”, he said.

The Sri Lankan armed forces’ occupy thousands of homes, public building, utilities, Hindu temples, schools and hospitals in a large area in the northern and northwestern parts of the Jaffna peninsula, including Palaly and Kankesanthurai.

More than ten thousand families evicted by the Sri Lankan armed forces from this region have been agitating since the signing of the ceasefire in February last year to return and resettle in their homes and resume their livelihoods.

That Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s government could not pass the four labour bills in their original form was a major victory for the opposition, Dr. Sarath Amunugama said. “It was a defeat for the government”, he asserted.

Dr. Amunugama praised the Sri Lanka army’s position that the HSZ issue would be considered only if the Tigers decommission as “pragmatic and realistic”.

The Liberation Tigers say they will not discuss demobilizing until an acceptable solution the conflict is found.

Rejecting the question of decommissioning as irrelevant, a senior LTTE official said: “The Tamils have been negotiating for regional autonomy with the Sri Lankan state futilely for 53 years. Colombo would not have been talking peace with us today if we did not have the military power to beat back Operation Agni Khiela, for which the Sri Lanka army prepared during four months of ceasefire we declared and observed unilaterally from Dec. 2000 to April 2001. The Tamil people have no illusions about the fact that it is our military power alone that is holding back Sinhala nationalists from oppressing them again”.


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