Page last updated at 03:47 GMT, Tuesday, 16 June 2009 04:47 UK

'New government' for Tamil Tigers

By Charles Haviland
BBC News, Colombo

Tamils in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Many Tamils around the world still show support for the Tigers

Sri Lankan rebel group the Tamil Tigers say they are forming a "provisional transnational government" to pursue self-rule for the Tamil minority.

In a statement released from an unknown location, a Tigers' spokesman said the new body would advance what he said was the next phase of the struggle.

The move comes almost a month after the government declared it had finally defeated the Tamil Tigers, or LTTE.

Rebels had fought for decades for a Tamil homeland in the island's north.

At the end of the conflict, most of the group's leaders were dead and many of its supporters in the Tamil diaspora confused and humiliated.

The announcement came in a statement by Selvarasa Pathmanathan, one of the few senior Tigers still alive and the movement's head of international relations.

He announced plans to set up what he called a provisional transnational government of Tamil Eelam, or the Tamil homeland.

'Necessary move'

Mr Pathmanathan said it was a necessary move to advance "the struggle", saying people wanted such a homeland and self-rule.

He said a committee was being formed to help the process, headed by an exiled Tamil lawyer, Rudrakumar Viswanathan.

Late last month, Mr Pathmanathan acknowledged that the Tamil Tigers' main leader, Prabhakaran, was dead and he said the LTTE had given up violence.

But this statement suggests it hasn't given up a separatist agenda.

That is not likely to go down well with the international community or with the Sri Lankan government, which is still celebrating its military victory.

"We have removed the word 'minorities' from our vocabulary," President Mahinda Rajapaksa said recently, and one of his ministers said that anyone espousing the ideals of the LTTE was violating the law.

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