No threat of resumption of war - Minister Peiris

[TamilNet, Thursday, 24 April 2003, 18:58 GMT]
The ceasefire agreement signed last year by the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam is still in force and there is no threat of resumption of war following the pull out by the LTTE from peace talks, said Minister G.L. Peiris, addressing the weekly cabinet press briefing Thursday.

Minister Peiris, who is the Cabinet spokesman, further said that there was no need for the reintroduction of roadblocks and checkpoints in Colombo to strengthen security because of the suspension of peace talks between the GOSL and LTTE. He expressed confidence that some positive developments could be expected in the coming days, enabling the peace talks to continue with the participation of the LTTE, sources said.

Referring to the letter written by the LTTE’s political head, Mr. Thamilchelvan, to the Secretary General of the Peace Secretariat, Mr.Bernard Gunatilake, Minister Peiris said: "Displacement of people is the most disturbing consequence of the war and the government has to take action to solve this problem swiftly and effectively. In this area the problem has been finding suitable premises for relocation of the army. The government has agreed that the army should vacate Subash and Gnanam hotels and forty or forty-five privately owned houses, which are occupied by the army.”

Continued Mr. Pieris: " However it is a re-location and not a withdrawal. I want to make it clear that the LTTE has also not called for the withdrawal of the army from the north. The LTTE position is that the army presence should not be oppressive and should not deter the voluntary decision of the internally displaced persons to return to their former homes. In this area the problem has revolved around the identification of suitable premises for the relocation of the army. These are premises earlier occupied by the police. We have reasons to believe the choice of premises for relocation will be acceptable. So once that hurdle is cleared we will be able to move rapidly with regard to the solution of the problem of the internally displaced persons. We have brought this to the notice of Norwegian facilitators who in turn will convey this to the LTTE and we are now forging ahead with plans for resettlement.

"The second point made by Mr.Thamilchelvan in his letter to Mr. Goonetilleke is that funds that were pledged in Oslo must find their way rapidly in to the North East Reconstruction Fund and that work with regard to projects that were agreed upon should start very quickly. Up to now, eighteen projects have been identified. These are very large projects estimated at a cost of seven or eight hundred million rupees in Sri Lankan currency.

"I also want to say that this is not a surprising development. At the very beginning of the peace process, Prime Minister Mr.Ranil Wickremasinghe categorically stated that there would be ups and downs and it was not going to be a smooth operation. The Prime Minister further stated that the country should be prepared to witness setbacks and one party or both parties would walk away from the talks.

"You should also be aware that in all peace processes, in different parts of the world and in different cultural settings, there had been developments of this nature. The South African peace process took five and a half years. During that period, on one occasion Mr.Nelson Mandela told the African National Congress that the peace process was over and they were going back to war. There was a ten-month period in South Africa when multilateral peace talks were suspended. In Northern Ireland, even after the agreement has been signed it has broken down. So these are not unique developments in the Sri Lankan situation."


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