LTTE welcomes de-proscription moves

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 23 January 2002, 13:35 GMT]
The Liberation Tigers' chief negotiator and political advisor, Mr. Anton Balasingham, Wednesday welcomed the Sri Lankan government's decision to review its proscription of the LTTE so as to pave the way for future negotiations with the organisation. Contacted by TamilNet over Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe's comments in Parliament Tuesday, Mr. Balasingham said the de-proscription of the LTTE was a long-standing impediment to a peaceful resolution of the conflict. He also criticised comments by former Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar urging the new government not to lift the ban on the LTTE.

anton_balasingham.jpgMr. Balasingham described Mr. Wickremesinghe's statement to the Sri Lankan Parliament Tuesday saying deep thought should be given to the ban on the LTTE, as "an encouraging sign of the new government's commitment" to end the ethnic conflict.

"The de-proscription of the LTTE will be a recognition of the legitimacy of the Tamil people's struggle. It is not a concession [by the government] but an acknowledgement of our position as the authentic representatives of the Tamil people," Mr. Balasingham said.

Mr. Balasingham strongly criticised comments by the former Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar who argued in Parliament that "on the question of de-proscribing the LTTE, any precipitate action should be avoided, and the government should bear in mind international practice in the face of impending talks with banned organisations."

"Mr. Kadirgamar has wasted his diplomatic career by obsessively pursuing this single issue [proscription of the LTTE]. In doing so, he has contributed considerably to the intractability of the ethnic problem. More concerned now with his personal pride than what is best for the peoples of Sri Lanka, Mr. Kadirgamar seems determined to thwart the brightening prospects for negotiations," Mr. Balasingham commented.

Mr. Balasingham pointed out that the Norwegian peace initiative collapsed last year after Mr. Kadirgamar, out of personal dislike for the then Norwegian Special Envoy ñ now Special Advisor to the Norwegian Foreign Ministry ñ Erik Solheim, successfully insisted on his removal.

The LTTE's political advisor praised Premier Wickremesinghe as "a realist and a man of vision genuinely committed to bringing peace and prosperity to the island which has been devastated by war."


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