Sri Lanka President says will discuss peace with all

[TamilNet, Saturday, 04 September 2004, 16:19 GMT]
Sri Lanka’s President Chandrika Kumaratunga said Saturday that she would invite all parties and organisations concerned in the peace process for discussions on how to take forward negotiations with the Liberation Tigers in two weeks. She was addressing a rally in Galle, a large provincial town on the island’s southern coast, to mark the 53rd anniversary of her Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), which was founded by her father, Mr. Solomon Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike. Speaking in Singhalese, President Kumaratunga vowed to do her best to bring the Liberation Tigers back to the negotiating table.

L-R PM Mahinda Rajapaksha, President Kumaratunga, UPFA general secretary Mr. Maithripala Sirisena, Mr. Tilvin Silva (background) and Mr. Anura Banadaranaike
“Though it is difficult, we will find a solution acceptable to all the communities. It is our duty to protect all the communities. I am sure LTTE would very soon return to talks”, the Sri Lankan President said.

She did not mention anything about her government’s stand on the LTTE’s proposal to establish an Interim Self Governing Authority (ISGA) for the northeast. Her main coalition ally, the Sinhala nationalist Marxist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna, is currently on a town-to-town campaign urging the Sinhala people to reject the ISGA proposal.

The President asked the people to put up with the hardships they are facing now for two years so that she can fulfil the pledges made by her government. She said her government has to grapple not only with the peace process but also with several crises such as fuel prices increases, drought, rising cost of living.

Her brother Mr. Anura Bandaranaike, Minister for Tourism, said that the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) Government has given the President all the responsibility for settling the ethnic conflict. In a patent reference to the JVP’s campaign against restarting talks with the LTTE on the basis of the ISGA proposal, he called on all the constituent parties of the UPFA to refrain from issuing statements on the peace process individually.

All the leaders of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, including Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksha, attended the rally Saturday.

The JVP was represented by its general secretary, Mr. Tilvin Silva.


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