Farewell to arms?

Khaleej Times, UAE
November 03, 2003


THE good news from Sri Lanka is that the Tamil Tigers have announced they will end their eight-month boycott of peace talks and, at the same time, invited the Colombo government to resume negotiations after a civil conflict that has lasted almost 20 years and claimed more than 60,000 lives.

The rebels have handed over historic proposals to end three decades of ethnic bloodshed. The two sides should bear two things in mind: first, the truce agreement reached a year ago, and second, the country's solidarity should be the prime concern after the Tigers have formally waived their earlier demand for autonomy. The current trend is seemingly towards creating a self-governing authority for them, whose powers and authorities would be shared among public authorities over a five-year span. After that, free and fair elections would be conducted under the supervision of a commission to be appointed by the self-governing authority.

It is known that the Norwegian ambassador, Hans Brattskar, whose country is backing the peace process, handed over the Tamil's document to the government on Friday. The government of Sri Lanka did not reject the document, but said it will work towards reviving peace talks suspended last April and initial discussions will take place this month. These initial discussions should pave the way for full-scale negotiations early next year. The government of Sri Lanka is eager to bring this long-drawn-out dispute to an end as it has taken a dear toll on its resources and claimed thousands of lives. Although the government has expressed certain reservations about the Tigers' proposals, from all accounts it intends to proceed with the peace negotiations.


© 2003 Khaleej Times


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