Kumaratunga blames UNP for army woes

[TamilNet, Friday, 28 April 2000, 17:00 GMT]
The Sri Lankan President, in her first address to the country on the fall of the Elephant Pass-Iyakkachchi base, charged that the setbacks suffered by the army were mainly due to its weakening for eleven years by the UNP regime. She reiterated her stand that she would negotiate with the Tigers only if they laid down their weapons. She wowed to wrest the north and east back from the LTTE.

The Sri Lankan President said in her address to the country telecast on channel 2 of the state television this evening at 9.30 that the Norwegian government has mediated between the Tigers and the Sri Lankan government for the past 13 months. She claimed that the LTTE later rejected the government's proposals. President Kumaratunga accused the UNP of handing over the Jaffna fort to the Liberation Tigers in 1990.

chandrika_kumarathunge_9-p.jpg"It is also admitted that there were lapses in the military sphere. One of the reasons for the lapses may be on the part of certain security personnel themselves. Another reason may be some people put their own objectives and personal gains before the country."

"The present government had to take over a weakened army. The practice in the past (during UNP rule) was to strengthen the LTTE rather than the army. The troops were also no given a proper leadership by the then government. We were compelled to take a weakened army without proper leadership. The weakened state of the army was a reason for setbacks."

The Sri Lankan President claimed that her government tried to modernise and improve the army but that it was difficult to put right in five years what had been the weakened for eleven years.

In an apparent reference to the UNP, Kumaratunga said "I totally condemn the efforts of certain sections of the opposition to gain narrow political advantage by exaggerating this temporary setback as a great defeat".


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