LTTE ban to be lifted on May 1 - minister
[TamilNet, Sunday, 07 April 2002, 22:17 GMT]
The proscription of the Liberation Tigers, imposed in 1998 by the former People’s Alliance regime, will be lifted on May 1, according to a minister of Sri Lanka’s United National Front government. Mr. T. Maheswaran, Minister for Hindu Religious Affairs, declared the government’s intent whilst speaking at a conference for Divisional Secretaries at the Jaffna District Secretariat Sunday afternoon.
The conference was arranged in connection with the visit of Dr. Rajitha Senaratna, the Minister for Lands who is in Jaffna this weekend for the opening of the A9 highway, the main land link between the northern peninsula and the rest of the island.
Mr. Maheswaran’s comments are the first public statement by a UNF government minister on the thorny issue of the LTTE’s proscription, which has been an impediment to negotiations between the organisation and the government.
Earlier this week the London-based Tamil Guardian newspaper reported that the Sri Lankan government was preparing to lift the ban on the LTTE ahead of negotiations in Thailand next month.
“As the Norwegian sponsored peace initiative gathers momentum following intense diplomatic activity in the past two weeks, the … government has completed the necessary legal review of the ban on the LTTE,” the paper said, quoting political sources in Colombo.
“[The government’s] constitutional experts say the necessary changes to the Prevention of Terrorism Act can be achieved quickly to ensure the momentum built up by Oslo's peace initiative is sustained,” the paper said.
The LTTE has repeatedly stated that it will not engage in political negotiations as a banned organisation, a stance supported by popular Tamil sentiment.
The Sunday Times last week quoted official sources as saying the government is expected to de-proscribe the LTTE, at least for a temporary period. However, with both sides refusing to put a time limit on negotiations, political analysts did not expect a sunset clause on the deproscription, the Tamil Guardian said.