B. Muralidhar Reddy

TULF calls for "brave step" to solve ethnic conflict

COLOMBO: U.S. Deputy Secretary of State for South Asia and Central Asian Affairs Richard Boucher on Wednesday visited Jaffna for a first hand assessment of the situation.

He met the top brass and Jaffna Government Agent K. Ganesh. TamilNet claimed that Mr. Ganesh handed over a memorandum to Mr. Boucher about the situation in Jaffna.

Indications are that Washington is not satisfied with the SLFP's package and would like it to team up with the main Opposition party, United National Party (UNP), to resolve the ethnic conflict.

Though the SLFP made public its proposals on the May Day, it has delayed submission of the document to the All Parties Representative Conference (APRC) amid speculation that leaders are divided over some ideas. The Janatha Vimukthi Perumana (JVP), electoral partner of the SLFP, has accused it of going back on Mr. Rajapaksa's pledge to retain the unitary character of the constitution.

Issues related to the air capabilities of the Tamil Tigers and defence cooperation are expected to figure in Mr. Boucher's talks.

TULF's disappointment

V.Anandasangaree, Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) president, in a letter to Mr. Rajapaksa expressed disappointment over the proposals and called for a "brave step" to solve the problem.

"With all respect to you and still with the hope that the ethnic problem can be solved during your office as President of Sri Lanka, I am unable to accept the proposal submitted by the Sri Lanka Freedom Party of which you are the president. With great reluctance I do so, since it is not meeting the aspirations of the Tamil speaking people and even not coming close to the powers devolved on the Provincial Councils under the 13th Amendment of the Constitution, which the Tamil speaking people had rejected," he said.

He said going back to the district as the unit of devolution would be counter-productive and may even strengthen the LTTE's position. The TULF leader said if sections of the SLFP were allergic to words like "federal" and "unitary", they could consider the Indian model.

Mr. Anandasangaree said it was very unfortunate that the Indian Government had not shown any interest in his proposal.

The Tamil Nadu Government should have taken the initiative to persuade Delhi to help find a solution acceptable to the Tamils and Muslims, which the Indian Government would have gladly done since it is opposed to separation and wanted a solution within a united Sri Lanka, he maintained.