Sri Lanka peace talks a travelling circus says President

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 02 April 2003, 00:05 GMT]
Sri Lanka’s President Chandrika Kumaratunga said Tuesday that the peace talks between Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s government and the Liberation Tigers are like a travelling circus (Thaninthana natana circus kandayama). She was addressing a function at the President’s House Tuesday evening to honour and assist disabled soldiers and the families of the war dead and missing of the Sri Lankan armed forces.

President's function
The Navy commander with President Kumaratunga at the function
Commander of Sri Lanka’s army, Lt. Gen. Lionel Balagalle, Commander of the Navy, Vice Admiral Daya Sandagiri and commander of the Sri Lanka Air Force, Air Vice Marshal Donald Perera and the President’s secretary, Mr. Kusumsiri Balapatabendi were present at the function.

The Sri Lankan President said permanent peace should be established but that the people don’t trust the peace process undertaken by the United National Front government.

She said that she is not sure whether the UNF is going on the correct path or not.

“Talks are going on but they have not yet talked about the social and economic roots of this war. They have not yet discussed decommissioning," Kumaratunge added.

She also lashed out at the LTTE, saying that it was not the sole representative of the Tamil people but is a terrorist organisation.

President's function
The President handing over deeds for a new house to the wife and daughter of a SLA soldier killed in action
According to President, her People’s Alliance (PA) government passed a special act in Parliament to set up the authority called (in Sinhala) Ranaviru Seva Adhikaraya in 1997 to look after the welfare of disabled soldiers and the families of the war dead and the missing; the authority had begun work in 1999. Following this, her government had observed 7 June 2000 as Heroes’ Day.

The Sri Lankan President said that 23000 soldiers of the Sri Lankan armed forces were killed in the war with the LTTE in the last 20 years. Twenty five thousand were wounded, she said.

Today’s function to honour and assist disabled soldiers and the families of war dead and missing called ‘Ranaviru Kusuma Jathika Ranaviru Upahara’ in Sinhala will be held in the provincial towns and villages in many parts of the island until 7 June, President Kumaratunga said.

The function was organised by the Presidential Secretariat, Sri Lankan Armed Forces Welfare Authority, the Army, Navy, Air Force, Sri Lanka Police and Provincial Councils.

About five hundred invitees attended the function which began with two minutes of silence to honour the war dead of the Sri Lankan armed forces.



President's function
President Kumaratunga with Sri Lanka Army commander Lt. Gen. Lionel Balagalle (to her left) and Navy commander Vice Admiral Daya Sandagiri at Tuesday's function.

 

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