President toughens stand on war, reforms
[TamilNet, Thursday, 31 August 2000, 05:53 GMT]
Sri Lanka's President Chandrika Kumaratunge said Wednesday that her government was prepared to talk to the Liberation Tigers if they laid down their arms, and would eradicate with every means at its disposal if they refused. She was addressing a rally of her Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) at Wellawaya in the deep south of the island.
President Kumaratunge, whose party is the chief member of Sri Lanka's ruling People's Alliance (PA) coalition said she would implement her government's proposed constitutional reforms irrespective of whether she receives a two third majority in Parliament in the forthcoming elections.
The government was forced to "indefinitely" delay the Parliamentary vote on the controversial reforms after bitter opposition from the Sinhala far right, with the backing of the Buddhist clergy.
The government was unable to muster the two thirds majority required to pass the bill after the main opposition United National Party (UNP) and the Tamil parties refused to back the package while certain PA ministers wavered on supporting it also.
At Wednesday's rally, President Kumaratunge reminded her supporters that during the presidential elections held last December, the UNP had demonstrated ties with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. She also challenged the UNP to say prove this was not the case.
Accusations of links with the LTTE proved crippling for the UNP during the Presidential polls last year, according to Sri Lankan political analysts.