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Friday, 15 November, 2002, 13:06 GMT
Sri Lanka peace moves attacked
Sri Lankan armed forces chiefs salute their war dead
The soldiers have observed a truce since February

The main opposition party in Sri Lanka has criticised the current peace process - calling the Norwegian mediators partial and accusing the UK and America of planning to reward terrorism.

President Kumaratunga
The president has made a dramatic shift in just a few days

The People's Alliance (PA), headed by President Chandrika Kumaratunga, issued a statement saying there was a grave risk of a separate state being created.

It said that it could no longer countenance developments which "jeopardised the country's sovereignty".

Sri Lanka has a president and a prime minister from rival parties but as of next month, the president will have the power to sack the prime minister and dissolve parliament.

A seven-page statement from the PA says the current peace process is only benefiting the Tamil Tiger rebel group whose aim seems to be the establishment of a separate state.

Indian 'unhappiness'

The party says it is particularly disturbed by the government's decision to hold a joint pledging conference with the Tigers in Norway later this month.

Ranil Wickramasinghe
The prime minister's initiative is questioned

The PA says this gives the rebels equal status with the government.

The PA says it is troubled that countries like Britain and the US, which have banned the Tigers as terrorists, will be represented at the conference at a high political level.

The party says this shows terrorism will in fact be rewarded, despite assertions to the contrary.

The PA statement also suggests there is Indian unhappiness at the way the peace process is developing and warns that the concerns of Sri Lanka's neighbours should be taken into the highest consideration.

'Grave risk'

Overall, the PA says the government must call on the rebels to renounce all violence before continuing with the peace talks and that the cease fire agreement signed in February should be subjected to a thorough review.

This marks a major shift in policy - just three days ago President Kumaratunga said she was glad the government had carried the peace process forward.

She then said measures to reduce tensions this year seemed to have progressed satisfactorily.

What gives this latest statement weight is that it was read out by former Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadiragamar who played a key role in formulating PA policies on peace.

And what will worry Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe's government is the PA's warning that there is a grave risk of a separate state being created and that they will move to stop this happening.


Peace efforts

Background

BBC SINHALA SERVICE

BBC TAMIL SERVICE

TALKING POINT
See also:

12 Nov 02 | South Asia
03 Nov 02 | South Asia
30 Oct 02 | South Asia
31 Oct 02 | South Asia
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