PM's advisor in Jaffna to see ground situation

[TamilNet, Sunday, 27 April 2003, 12:20 GMT]
Sri Lanka Prime Minister's senior advisor Mr.Bradman Weerakone at the end of his two-day visit to Jaffna Sunday said at a conference held at Jaffna District Secretariat that the reply to be sent shortly to the LTTE political advisor Mr Anton Balasingham would contain assurances that will help the resumption of the peace talks. Meanwhile Mr.Weerakone Saturday instructed the Government Agent to hand back the municipal lands to the Jaffna municipal council, sources said

Weerakone at Muhamalai
On the instruction of the North East Provincial Governor the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) took over the municipal lands to relocate its Jaffna garrison, which drew protest from Jaffna civil groups, the LTTE and the TNA.

Mr.Weerakone's visit to Jaffna was arranged to study the ground situation before sending the reply to the letter by the LTTE political advisor Mr.Anton Balasingham.

Mr.Balasingham said in his letter that LTTE leadership has decided to suspend its participation in the peace talks for the time being enabling the government to implement some decisions already agreed at several rounds of peace talks held earlier, political sources said.

Mr.Bradman Weerakone, one of the experienced top civil servant in Sri Lanka said at the conference held Saturday at Jaffna district secretariat that his visit to Jaffna on the instruction of the Prime Minister Mr.Ranil Wickremasinghe was to explore the possibilities of removing obstacles to take forward the peace process.

Mr.Weerakone said he held vital talks with the top security officials on Saturday at the Palaly army main base. He added that the army is still maintaining good relationships with the people of Jaffna. "However it is very difficult to bring all of them to our way," said Mr.Weerakone.

The conference was presided by the Government Agent Mr.S.Pathmanathan.Dr Ambalavanar, another advisor to the Prime Minister also attended the conference with representatives from civil groups, sources said.

At the conference, former commissioner of the Jaffna Municipal Council Mr.C.V.K.Sivagnanam told Mr.Bradman Weerakone that the government should take immediate steps to remove high security zones and to expedite resettlement of thousands of internally displaced in their own lands in the Jaffna district to bring normalcy in the lives of Jaffna Tamils.

Mr. Sivagnanam stressed that the present ceasefire, which came into force on 22nd February 2002 with the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding by the GOSL, and LTTE should continue and peace talks should resume.

Dr.K.Gunanandan representing a civil group said that the development of Jaffna teaching hospital, Tellipalai cancer hospital and Jaffna University should be expedited without waiting till a permanent peace solution is found.

President of the Jaffna District Consortium of Non-Governmental Organizations Mr.C.Vikneswaran said immediate action should be taken develop the education of the district and also to provide better facilities to students and teachers who suffered due to war for the last over two decades. These should be attended without delay while peace talks continue, he said.

Mr.Bradman Weerakone replied that resettlement of internally displaced would be expedited and action has already been taken to continue the peace talks between the parties concerned without any interruption, sources said.

Mr.Bradman Weerakone speaking to local journalists after the conference said that he has conveyed the message of the Prime Minister to the armed forces in Jaffna not to take any step that could derail the peace process and briefed the heads of the three armed forces in the peninsula about the present state of the peace process, sources said


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