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Thursday, 15 August, 2002, 11:09 GMT 12:09 UK
Sri Lanka to lift rebel ban
Scene of Tiger attack
The ban was imposed after a rebel bomb attack
The Sri Lankan Government says it will lift its ban on the Tamil Tiger rebels before peace talks begin in September.

We will lift the ban, as now we have a firm date to start talks

Government spokesman GL Peiris
Government spokesman GL Peiris told journalists that the ban would be lifted 10 days before peace talks get under way between 12-17 September in Thailand.

The announcement comes a day after the government and a senior Tiger official met in Oslo and agreed on a date for the long-delayed summit.

Formal peace talks were due to begin in May, but were put back over arguments over the agenda and the implementation of a Norwegian-mediated ceasefire accord adopted in February.

The government has also said it now has enough support in parliament to implement any changes agreed upon during peace talks.


The lifting of the ban meets one of the main demands by the Tigers for peace talks to start.

Tamil tiger
The war has gone for nearly two decades
It was imposed after the Tigers bombed one of Sri Lanka's holiest Buddhist shrines in 1998, killing more than 20 people.

But the government says the talks in Thailand will not include any discussion of the rebels main objective - a separate homeland for Tamils in the north and east of the country.

"We are willing to discuss all issues except the sovereignty and unity of Sri Lanka, which should remain as one country," GL Peiris said.

The government has said in the past that it would consider greater political autonomy for Tamil-dominated areas, but within the framework of a unitary Sri Lankan state.


One factor which observers believe has been delaying the talks is a dispute over President Kumaratunga's constitutional powers to dissolve parliament - a right the government wants taken away.

The government now says it has the support of a two-thirds majority in parliament to enable it to pass a package of constitutional reforms next month.

These would include removing the president's power to dissolve parliament and enabling MPs to vote against their parties without losing their seats.

The BBC's Frances Harrison in Colombo says that if these reforms are pushed through, it will be crucial in showing the rebels that it can also implement any constitutional changes agreed during negotiations.

Truce violations

It is clear that at this point in time the LTTE has to do better in adhering to the ceasefire agreement

Monitoring mission
As efforts continue to get talks started, the body charged with monitoring the ceasefire says the Tigers should make more effort to adhere to the truce.

The Sri Lankan Monitoring Mission (SLMM) says that 576 complaints had been made against the Tigers, of which 146 had been ruled as violations of the ceasefire that went into effect in February.

There had been 164 complaints against the government in the same period, of which 28 were ruled as violations.

The SLMM voiced concern about the high number of violations by the Tigers concerning abduction and underage recruitment.

More than 65,000 people have been killed since the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) began their fight for a Tamil homeland in 1983.

Peace efforts




See also:

15 Aug 02 | South Asia
15 Aug 02 | South Asia
14 Aug 02 | South Asia
14 Aug 02 | South Asia
14 Aug 02 | Crossing Continents
12 Aug 02 | South Asia
28 Jul 02 | South Asia
16 Jul 02 | South Asia
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