Emergency Regulations extended
[TamilNet, Tuesday, 21 March 2006, 13:27 GMT]
Sri Lanka parliament extended the state of emergency Tuesday, parliamentary sources in Colombo said. First imposed after the assassination of its foreign minister six months ago, Emergency Regulations have been extended every month, but the Sri Lanka Government said violence has fallen sharply since talks with Liberation Tigers in February.
Introduced after Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar was assasinated last year, the state of emergency gives the police and army wide powers.
The Emergency Regulations was extended first for the November presidential election and then again every month as violence rose.
More than two hundred people died in less than two months in December and January.
"Last month, the killings and attempted killings came down," SL Prime Minister Rantasiri Wickremanayake told parliament.
"This is a good trend. We want it to continue and so we need to extend the state of emergency," he said.
With most parliamentarians away from Colombo campaigning ahead of March 30 local elections, Tuesday's extension was passed without voting. The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) parliamentarians abstained.
Wickremanayake said there had only been 10 killings and nine attempted killings since the two sides met last month in Switzerland for their first high level talks since 2003- a significant improvement compared to the early 2006.
The Sri Lanka Army (SLA) says not a single soldier has been wounded during last month.