President rejects LTTE ceasefire

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 09 January 2001, 00:43 GMT]
Sri Lanka's President Chandrika Kumaratunga Monday rejected Liberation Tigers' month-long unilateral cease-fire during a televised speech to people in the northern Jaffna peninsula, in her first public response to the LTTE "goodwill" offer last month.

She said her government would only consider a cease fire if the LTTE enters into negotiations. Any ceasefire agreements will have to be reached through negotiations, she added.

The LTTE last month said it would observe a unilateral month long ceasefire from Christmas Eve, as a gesture of goodwill and urged the government to reciprocate.

The Tigers say that the conflict must be de-escalated and a conducive atmosphere for talks created if negotiations are to be successful.

However, the government last month rejected the offer in a statement issued through cabinet ministers and a statement from the Presidential Secretariat saying that further gestures of goodwill were unnecessary.

But political analysts said Monday's reiteration of that position by the President herself clarified any remaining doubts as to Colombo's position on the matter.

President Kumaratunge said her government wishes to give equal opportunities to the Tamil people through its proposed constitutional reforms She added that the ruling People's Alliance (PA) would go ahead with the reofrms even with out the support of the main opposition United National Party (UNP).


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