2nd lead

I shall take the defense of the country - SL president

[TamilNet, Friday, 07 November 2003, 16:46 GMT]
"The Ceasefire Agreement between the UNF government and the LTTE will continue and the Norwegian monitors will be allowed to function with clear instructions. The Sri Lanka Army will be instructed to strictly abide by the ceasefire agreement. The Prime Minister can continue with the peace process. I shall take the defense of the country," said Sri Lanka's President, Ms Chandrika Kumaratunge, in her televised address to the country Friday night at about 9:45 p.m.

"Firstly, and in the final count the President who is also the Head of State, Head of Government, Head of Cabinet and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces is held solely responsible for matters of Defence and National Security. It is the President who will some day be held exclusively responsible for all acts of commissions and omissions, the successes and failures of defence and national security policy" claimed the President.

The president slammed the Norwegian facilitators with regards to the "Terms of Reference" given to them. But, she said that the SLMM will be allowed to function with "clear instructions".

"The Defence authorities permitted the Norwegian facilitators and their Monitors during the Ceasefire period to suggest to the Armed Forces of the Government of Sri Lanka to agree to remove strategically crucial military camps and to recognize the LTTE’s illegal naval unit, before even commencing talks with the LTTE on the de-commissioning of arms, giving up politics of terror and violence and above all giving up the call for a separate state, under whatever name it may be called. At a formal discussion with the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defence and also in writing, I have taken up the position that it is the duty and responsibility of the Government of Sri Lanka to resolve the matter of armed camps set up by the LTTE and that it was improper, to throw this baby on to the Norwegian lap. In fact this does not come under the Terms of Reference given to the Norwegians. It is up to the government and the government alone to resolve the problem of the LTTE or any illegally armed group setting up armed camps within the territory of Sri Lanka. But, all we hear are glib statements by various government authorities that the problem was handed over to the Norwegian facilitators and other Monitors. Neither the Prime Minister nor the Defence Minister have to date stated their position on the surprising demands of the LTTE, for the removal of strategic military camps and the recognition of LTTE naval units, abdicating their responsibility to a foreign government which has no authority or provision to take decisions on these matters." accused Ms. Kumaratunga.

"Parliament will meet on November 19. The Finance Minister can present the Budget. The opposition from its time will compensate the lost six days due to the prorogation of parliament. I hope the government would give pay rise to public servants as recommended by the Tissa Devendra Salaries Commission," said the President

"I call upon all the political parties to put the country before self and to form a government of reconciliation. I stand ready," declared Ms. Kumaratunge

Ms Kumaratunge further said: "I call upon the Prime Minister and cabinet ministers to play their respective roles with utmost responsibility."

 

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