LTTE: "no need to renegotiate ceasefire"

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 27 July 2005, 19:06 GMT]
Rejecting a call by the Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga inviting the Liberation Tigers for top-level talks to review and restructure the February 2002 ceasefire agreement, the Tigers this week urged the Sri Lankan government to implement the clauses and obligations of the truce without delay, so as to "consolidate the conditions of peace and normalcy in the Tamil homeland."

On Monday, Sri Lanka's President Kumaratunga, meeting with ambassadors of the Co-Chairs of the Peace Process (United States, European Union, Japan and Norway) in the wake of their governments’ strong criticism of Colombo’s failure to disarm Tamil paramilitaries working with the Sri Lankan military, had rejected the charges and sought the renegotiation of the February 2002 ceasefire agreement instead.

Mr.Anton Balasingham.Commenting on the views expressed by President Kumaratunga to diplomats representing the Co-Chairs of the Peace Process, the LTTE’s Chief Negotiator and Political Advisor, Mr. Anton Balasingham, blamed the Sri Lankan government for the non-fulfilment of the obligations of the ceasefire agreement which contributed to the deterioration of the security situations in the island’s east.

In a special interview to the Tamil Guardian, Mr. Balasingham this week asserted that there was "essentially nothing wrong with structure of the ceasefire agreement that needed revision or restructuring through negotiation."

"The failure on the part of the Sri Lankan government to comply with the conditions and obligations of the truce agreement is the causative factor for the outbreak of violence and [ensuing] instability in the eastern districts," he said.

"The only way to strengthen the ceasefire, the very foundation of the peace process, is to implement the agreed clauses of the agreement," Mr. Balasingham told the paper.

The LTTE’s theoretician welcomed the "timely intervention" of the Co-Chairs of Peace Process in urging the Sri Lankan government to disarm the Army-backed Tamil paramilitaries and to ensure the security of unarmed LTTE cadres working in government controlled areas in compliance with the ceasefire agreement.

Last week the Co-Chairs (United States, European Union, Japan and Norway) said they were "alarmed the deteriorating security situation in Sri Lanka," and called for a cessation to the violence. Calling on the LTTE to stop its attacks, they were strongly critical of Colombo’s failure to disarm Tamil paramilitaries working with the Sri Lankan military.

"The government’s claim that it did not condone or support the activities of Tamil paramilitaries and that these groups had already been disarmed under the ceasefire agreement is a baseless and malicious lie," Mr. Balasingham said.

"It is a well known fact that the Sri Lankan armed forces, particularly the intelligence wing of the military, operate in collusion with the Tamil armed groups and were behind the cold-blooded murders of several LTTE cadres and supporters in the eastern province," he said.

"These killings, which assumed the characteristic of shadow war against the LTTE, has generated a dangerous situation jeopardising the ceasefire agreement," he further said.

"It is therefore the responsibility of the Sri Lankan state to take urgent action to ensure the disarmament of the paramilitary groups and to prevent them from engaging in acts of violence," Mr. Balasingham said.

The LTTE’s Chief Negotiator is of the opinion that there is no need for the revision or restructuring of the ceasefire agreement through negotiation.

"Technically, there is nothing wrong with the [truce agreement]. The current escalation of violence could only be attributed to the failure on the part of the Sri Lankan government to fulfil its obligation under [it]," he said.

"We urge the international community, particularly the Co-Chairs of the Peace Process to use their good offices to bring pressure on the government to act with responsibility, conducting itself in compliance with the ceasefire agreement," Mr. Balasingham said.

Earlier this month, in the wake of the killings and an abortive paramilitary attack on LTTE members travelling under Army-escort, the Tigers withdrew their cadres from military-held areas - where they are allowed under the terms of the truce - to areas they control.

The withdrawal has helped ease tensions because the cadres are no longer exposed to attacks that the military blame on feuding between the Tigers and a renegade faction, but which the LTTE has said are proven to be facilitated and organised by Sri Lankan military intelligence.

But Hagrup Haukland, head of the SLMM, said that although he did not expect killings to escalate at this point, any trust between the two sides had evaporated.

"It's the worst situation I have experienced over these 3-½ years in terms of the mistrust and the climate between the parties," he told Reuters.

"The cornerstone in the ceasefire agreement is the ability of the LTTE to conduct their political work in the north and east. And if they can't do that then, for sure, the ceasefire is void."

 

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