UNP hails Thamilchelvan killing, slams LTTE

[TamilNet, Saturday, 03 November 2007, 21:25 GMT]
Sri Lanka’s main opposition United National Party (UNP) has hailed the killing of LTTE Political Head and Chief Negotiator, S. P. Thamilchelvan, in a Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) airstrike on his official residence Friday as “a victorious moment.” Praising the Air Force, UNP spokesman Lakshman Kireiella said it was not possible to talk peace with the LTTE.

Mr. Thamilchelvan and five other LTTE officials were killed Friday when SLAF jets bombed his residence at 6am.

Mr. Kireiella told the BBC Sinhala Service, Sandeshaya, on Friday that the UNP congratulates the SLAF on its airstrike.

He said the killing of Mr. Thamilchelvan and five other LTTE officials “a victorious moment.”

Mr. Kireiella said the LTTE has now been politically crippled by the loss of Mr. Thamilchelvan and Mr. Anton Balasingham, the movement’s late theoretician, who passed away a year ago.

The LTTE is thus being defeated politically, he said.

Mr. Kireiella said that there was no point holding peace talks with the LTTE.

“You can’t have peace talks if only one party is willing to talk,” he said.

“When the UNP was in power we tried to negotiate with them. But they were not willing,” Mr. Kireiella said.

Mr. Thamilchelvan was a member of the negotiating team that Mr. Balasingham led in six rounds of Norwegian facilitated negotiations with the then UNP government in 2002 and 2003.

It was during these talks that the controversial agreement by the LTTE and UNP government to explore federalism was reached (later referred to as the ‘Oslo Declaration’).

Last month the UNP announced a u-turn on its support for federalism, saying it was ‘repositioning’ itself on power-sharing as a solution to the island’s protracted conflict.

However, Mr. Vidar Helgesen, former Deputy Foreign Minister of Norway, who was responsible for the Oslo’s facilitation in the peace process, told the NTB agency Saturday that Mr. Thamilchelvan played a key role in the talks.

Meanwhile UNP stalwart S.B. Dissanayake told media Friday that Mr. Thamilchelvan’s death was no matter for regret.

The bombing raid on Mr. Thamilchelvan’s residence was a “morale boosting victory” for the Air Force, he told the Daily Mirror.

He said even during peace talks between the UNP and the LTTE, Thamilselvan remained a stumbling block in attempts to reach an amicable settlement.

“So, there should not be any regret about his death,” Mr. Dissanayake said.

He said Mr. Thamilchelvan was instrumental in engineering a boycott by Tamil voters of the 2005 presidential election in the northern and eastern provinces that eventually resulted in the UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe being defeated at the poll by a narrow margin.


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