PA leader slams truce agreement

[TamilNet, Friday, 10 May 2002, 00:49 GMT]
(News Feature) Sri Lanka’s main opposition People’s Alliance (PA) party Thursday launched a bitter attack in Parliament on the permanent ceasefire signed by the ruling United National Front government and the Liberation Tigers in February, accusing the international truce monitors of being biased towards the Tigers.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe reluctantly agreed Wednesday to an all day debate on the ceasefire agreement following intense pressure from the leader of the opposition, Mr.Mahinda Rajapakse.

Opening the six and a half hour debate, Mr. Rajapakse declared :"The LTTE has violated the cease-fire agreement more than three hundred times since [the truce] came into force. The LTTE is using the [agreement to its advantage].”

“The Norwegian monitoring of the agreement is also in favour of the LTTE,” the PA leader said of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM), the team of international monitors.

"We are not satisfied with the monitoring of the cease-fire agreement currently in force," he said.

“The Vaakarai incident in the east coast of Sri Lanka has proved this," he added, in reference to the a Sri Lanka Navy attack on Muslim, Sinhala and Tamil fishermen on Wednesday last week. The Navy claimed it fired on LTTE boats, but surviving fishermen told the SLMM that there were no Tiger vessels in the area and fishing boats had been struck.

Mr.Rajapakse accused the LTTE of abusing the cease-fire agreement by smuggling arms, conscripting child soldiers and forcibly collecting taxes from civilians in the northeast.

PA parliamentarian Mr. Nimal Sripala de Silva said that the LTTE is being dishonest in implementing the cease-fire agreement. The government should bring this to the notice of the international community, which is showing deep interest in finding a solution to the island's ethnic conflict through peace talks assisted by third party facilitation, he said

"Earlier People's Alliance promoted a political solution to the ethnic conflict that does not divide the country. All should urge the LTTE to come to the negotiating table to find a satisfactory solution accepted by all communities," said Mr. de Silva.

Joining the debate on behalf of the government, the Constitutional Affairs Minister Professor G.L.Peiris said, "the government currently is in the process of confidence building measure between the relevant parties which is a basic need to take forward the peace process."

Rejecting the allegation that the government was not taking any action against cease-fire violations by the LTTE Minister Peiris said that, "the government has taken prompt action whenever the cease-fire agreement is violated."

He further said that the people in the country are now enjoying greater freedom through the cease-fire agreement. "The government has also paid attention to increase the number of cease-fire monitoring staff," Minister revealed.

The Minister continued, "the government delegation will attend Thailand peace talks with open mind. The outcome of such talks first will be placed in the parliament and thereafter will be placed before the people of the country through a referendum. The government is dedicated to make the current peace efforts a success."

Mr.R.Sampanthan, Tamil National Alliance parliamentary group leader pleaded with the PA not to disrupt the Norwegian peace process.

"I appeal to SLFP parliamentarians, the People's Alliance that if you disrupt the current peace process you will be committing a great crime to many unborn generations of Sri Lanka in this country,” he said.

“It may be that some of you think that you can derive cheap political advantage by raising questions and stirring up emotions amongst people of this country, but please do remember that the vast majority of the people of this country are for peace,” Mr. Sampanthan said. “Please conduct yourself with a sense of responsibility and give the peace process a chance.”

 

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