Kumaratunga expresses 'shock and dismay' over truce signing

[TamilNet, Friday, 22 February 2002, 19:15 GMT]
Sri Lanka's President, Chandrika Kumaratunga, expressed her "shock and dismay" at the government's hurried signing of a permanent ceasefire with the Liberation Tigers. In a statement released by the Presidential Secretariat, she lashed out at her arch-rival Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe for not seeking her prior approval, describing his entering into the truce as "an undemocratic act."

"The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the United National Front (UNF) government and the LTTE could be regarded as an undemocratic act as the Prime Minister had not obtained her prior approval, and not presenting the MoU to the Cabinet and parliament before its announcement," said Mr.K.Balapattebendi, Secretary to the President in a press release released Friday afternoon.

Sri Lanka's President, Chandrika Kumaratunga, expressed her "shock and dismay" at the government's hurried signing of a permanent ceasefire with the Liberation Tigers.(Photo:Reuters)
"President Chandrika Kumaratunge has expressed her deep concerns to the Prime Minister on the MoU signed between the Prime Minister and the LTTE," the press release said.

The press release further states that, "Prime Minister Mr.Ranil Wickremasinghe met the President Thursday evening to report about the signing of the MoU between his government and the LTTE. The Prime Minister told her that the LTTE leader Mr.V.Pirapaharan had already signed the MoU and he (PM) would be signing the MoU on Friday."

"The President then expressed shock and dismay over informing her about the MoU just few hours before the Prime Minister was about to sign and after LTTE leader signed it.

"The President had earlier officially informed the Prime Minister in writing about the powers to her as the Executive President, Head of the State Government and the Cabinet and the matters relating to war, peace, State security and the sovereignty.

"It is not necessary to declare again the President's commitment to engage on the peace process by ending the war immediately", said the press release issued by the Presidential Secretariat.

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe (right) hands over a truce pact to Norwegian Ambassador Jon Westborg in the northern town of Vavuniya, Sri Lanka, Friday, Feb. 22.(Photo:AP)
Meanwhile the Prime Minister Mr.Ranil Wickremasinghe Friday said "all details of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by him and the leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) would be presented at a media conference to be held on Sunday in Colombo. "All relevant groups would be enlightened on the MoU. The international opinion has been that a political solution must be provided to the North East problem through negotiations. The war could not be ended through a ceasefire. However such a ceasefire has to be implemented as an initial step to end the war", said Mr.Ranil Wickremasinghe addressing media personnel at the Vavuniya District Secretariat Friday after exchanging documents pertaining the MoU between the government and the LTTE.

The Prime Minister further said, "the journey to achieve stable peace fulfilling the aspirations of all ethnic groups is a very difficult task. The main objective of the ceasefire is to create the basic foundation for the peace talks to be conducted to find a stable solution to the northeast problem.

Mr.Jan Petersen, Foreign Minister of Norway (right) and Mr. Vidar Helgesen, Deputy Foreign Minister speaking at a press conference in Oslo, making public the agreement signed by LTTE leader Vellupillai Pirapaharan and Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.(Photo:AP)
The Prime Minister announced that monthly evaluation would be done on the progress of the MoU.

The Prime Minister answering a question about the confrontation that took place on Thursday on the Mullaithivu sea between the Sri Lanka Navy and the LTTE said that he had advised the chiefs of the three armed forces to take steps to control the suspected groups so as not to create any incident of this nature in future.

Later Mr.Ranil Wickremasinghe conferred with the chiefs of the State armed forces at the Vavuniya Sri Lanka Army headquarters. At this meeting, attention was focused on the situation of aftermath of the opening of Kandy-Jaffna A-9 highway. The Prime Minister instructed the security forces be on alert during the cease-fire.


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