- Title: SRI LANKA: REBELS WARN POWER STRUGGLE THREATENS PEACE
- Date: 14th January 2004
- Summary: (W3) KILINOCHCHI, SRI LANKA (JANUARY 12, 2004) (REUTERS) 1. SLV VENUE WHERE INTERVIEW TOOK PLACE; MV REBEL POLITICAL WING LEADER S.P. THAMILSELVAN SEATED FOR INTERVIEW 0.12 2. (SOUNDBITE) (Tamil) THAMILSELVAN SAYING "All that has happened during those days was an orchestrated thing that was done by the Sri Lankan government forcing the Tamil people to take up arms and fight against oppression. And now the international community can see that it is a power struggle in the south that has led to all these problems. So the aspirations of the Tamil people to be compensated for the heavy price that they have paid is a matter which has to be taken into consideration. Now the international community is fully aware of the actions being taken in the south. Therefore we need not worry very much about the accusations and the allegations that the Tamil Tigers are the ones who break and violate the ceasefire. It all depends on the government and the military machine of the government to ensure that the Tamil people are not pushed towards such a situation to take up arms ever again." 1.12 4. SCU THAMILSELVAN'S HANDS 1.17 5. (SOUNDBITE) (Tamil) S.P. THAMILSELVAN SAYING "It is not right for us to mention right now what events will take place if the people lose patience. These are the people who were the backbone of the entire freedom struggle. For the last two years people were optimistic that normalcy will prevail. The anticipation for peace is now beginning to dwindle. When the people become restless then the responsibility of our organisation is such that we have to respond to the wishes of the people. But at this stage we will have to wait and see what kind of a response we will have to make as a responsible political organisation, if the people lose their patience." 2.16 6. SCU THAMILSELVAN'S HANDS 2.21 Initials Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
- Embargoed: 29th January 2004 12:00
- Location: KILINOCHCHI, SRI LANKA
- Country: Sri Lanka
- Reuters ID: LVACFF3351DIN32J1AN3IYFJC48Q
- Story Text: Sri Lankan rebels warn power struggle threatens peace.
Sri Lanka's Tamil Tigers warned on Monday (January
12, 2004) a feud between
the president and prime minister was testing their patience
in the bid to end 20 years of war but said they would not
break the island's truce.
Rebel political wing leader S.P. Thamilselvan said the
fate of the peace process was in the hands of Prime
Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and President Chandrika
Kumaratunga, whose power struggle has raised worries for
the ceasefire, holding for nearly two years.
"It all depends on the government and the military
machine of the government to ensure that the Tamil people
are not pushed towards such a situation to take up arms
ever again," Thamilselvan told Reuters.
But he added the patience of the Tamil people was
The anticipation for peace is now beginning to dwindle.
When the people become restless then the responsibility of
our organisation is such that we have to respond to the
wishes of the people. But at this stage we will have to
wait and see what kind of a response we will have to make
as a responsible political organisation, if the people lose
their patience," Thamilselvan said.
But he said the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam
(LTTE), accused of breaking four previous truces, would not
be the first to break the current ceasefire, which has
silenced the guns after the war that killed 64,000 people.
It was his first interview with the international media
since President Chandrika Kumaratunga seized three
ministries, including defence, in November, delaying
efforts to get stalled peace talks back on track.
Kumaratunga accuses Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe
of conceding too much to the Tigers in his bid to end the
war over a separate Tamil state in the island's north and
Wickremesinghe, who is from a different party and is
elected separately, responded by stopping his leading role
in the peace process and saying the president had to hand
back the ministries or take over negotiations.
Dressed in casual street clothes, but with an armed
guard nearby, Thamilselvan also said it did not matter who
the LTTE negotiated with, as long as that person had a
mandate to make peace.
Kumaratunga has vast constitutional powers, but must
work in an uneasy relationship with Wickremesinghe, who has
a majority in parliament. She opened peace talks with
the LTTE in 1994, but when
talks collapsed she unleashed the army to take back the
northern Jaffna peninsula in one of the bloodiest periods
of the war.
But despite their willingness to negotiate with either
leader, Thamilselvan cautioned that while the feud drags
on, Tamils were starting to lose hope of a return to
"But it is not prudent at this stage to spell out what
eventually will happen at that stage when the people lose
their patience," Thamilselvan said.
Analysts have said parliamentary elections may be
called if Kumaratunga and Wickremesinghe cannot find a way
to share power.
Also at stake is $4.5 billion to rebuild Sri Lanka
pledged at a donor conference last June, conditional on
progress to end the civil war.
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