INTERNATIONAL

We must ensure rights of our Tamil brethren, says Rajapaksa

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa.  

B. Muralidhar Reddy

COLOMBO: Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Saturday reiterated his call to the LTTE to lay down arms and enter the political mainstream.

Addressing the All Party Representative Conference (APRC), which met at the Presidential Palace, Mr. Rajapaksa said, “I wish to once again very clearly call on the LTTE to lay down their arms and surrender. They should act in this manner and enter the democratic political process. Our aim should be to ensure the democratic political rights of our Tamil brethren.”

A Presidential Secretariat statement said Mr. Rajapaksa summoned the APRC to apprise its members of the developments on the “operations to eradicate terrorism, establish peace and restore democracy throughout the country.”

“However difficult it may be, it is my belief that the efforts to find political solutions to political issues should be continued. It is my belief that there are no military solutions to political questions.

“The people have elected us to realise their aims and aspirations. It is our duty to ensure to the Tamil people of the North the same democratic rights as enjoyed by the people in all other parts of the country. Military operations have become necessary to eradicate terrorism from the country and enthrone democracy throughout the land,” he said.

The statement said the leader of TVMP Muralitharan Karuna Amman took part in the deliberations.

It quoted him as saying he had been with the LTTE for more than 22 years; and with his experience knew that when the LTTE came forward seeking peace it was always to strengthen itself. On earlier occasions, governments, possibly by mistake, had encouraged the LTTE by giving it arms and money.

“He recalled his own participation in several rounds of talks with the government held under international sponsorship. They had come to an understanding to accept a federal system as a solution.

“However, Anton Balasingham, without consulting Prabakaran had issued a statement stating that they were willing to consider a federal system. When he discussed this with Prabakaran he rejected the idea of federalism. He wanted the talks dragged for at least five years till the LTTE obtained enough arms to strengthen itself further,” said the statement.

Mr. Rajapaksa emphasised the importance of all parties to come together so as not to betray the people in their eager search for democracy and peace, away from the path of violence.

Separately, the military claimed that at least 24 LTTE cadre were killed in battles in the north.

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