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Analyst Dr Hilde Henriksen Wor-geh
"It is something called the Norwegian peace model"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 1 February, 2000, 15:18 GMT
Norway role in Sri Lanka peace plan

Peace moves to end Sri Lanka's civil war


By Susannah Price in Colombo

Sri Lanka's justice minister says the Norwegian Government will play an intermediary role in putting a new peace package before Tamil Tiger rebels.

The plans include giving greater autonomy to parts of the north and east of the island, where the Tigers are fighting for a separate Tamil state.

Conflict in Sri Lanka
  • An unwinnable war?
  • Timeline of conflict
  • Leading the Tigers
  • The ethnic divide
  • President Chandrika Kumaratunga had pledged to bring in a new constitution which includes plans to devolve powers to the region and to abolish the executive presidency.

    Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Professor G L Peiris, said it was the first time the government had been in a position to place a framework for a new constitution before all political parties and the Tigers.

    Devolution

    The government is sounding increasingly optimistic about its chances of making the long-awaited devolution package a reality.

    President Kumaratunga unveiled her plans to give more autonomy to the region in a bid to erode support for the Tamil Tigers more than four years ago, but there has been little progress since.


    The president unveiled her peace plan
    However, Professor Peiris said he hoped a draft could be presented to the Tamil parties which backed the government by the end of the week.

    After that, the main opposition United National Party would come into the consultation.

    Last month, the leader of the UNP, Ranil Wickremesinghe, said he would extend his support for the devolution plans, which need a two-thirds majority in parliament.

    Professor Peiris said this was a breakthrough as previously the inhibiting factor had been the lack of consensus in the south.

    He said once they had come up with proposals acceptable to all parties, the Norwegian Government would play a role in presenting the proposals to the Tigers.

    Scepticism

    The Tigers have expressed their opposition to the package in the past.

    Analysts believe they currently see themselves in a strong position with their continuing offensive near the Jaffna peninsula and may not be prepared to talk.

    President Kumaratunga had also pledged to abolish the executive presidency in her new constitution.

    Professor Peiris said the concentration of power in the presidency, which left other institutions in the shadows, was not good.

    However, he added, President Kumaratunga had been re-elected in December and it was a question of balance.

    With general elections due by August, the government will have to move quickly if it is to adhere to this new, ambitious timetable.

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    See also:
    26 Jan 00 |  South Asia
    Norway in Sri Lanka peace effort
    20 Jan 00 |  South Asia
    Sri Lanka devolution plan
    18 Dec 99 |  South Asia
    Analysis: Fifteen years of bloodshed
    11 Aug 99 |  South Asia
    Sri Lanka: Searching for a solution
    14 Aug 99 |  South Asia
    Hope for Sri Lankan peace
    23 Oct 99 |  South Asia
    Sri Lankan president vows peace

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