Sat, Nov 01, 2003 - Page 5 News List

Tamil Tigers submit blueprint for peace


Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels yesterday gave peacebroker Norway their first ever blueprint for power-sharing aimed at ending three decades of ethnic bloodshed, a guerrilla spokesman said.

The rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) said they gave the Norwegian ambassador, Hans Brattskar, a proposal to set up an "interim administration" for embattled regions.

"Political wing leader S. P. Thamilselvan handed over the proposals to Ambassador Brattskar and they went in for discussions thereafter," spokesman Daya Master said by telephone from the rebel-held town of Kilinochchi, 330km north of Colombo.

Brattskar was due to travel back from Kilinochchi to the capital later yesterday to convey the proposals to the Colombo government.

Officials in Colombo said they were standing by to communicate the rebel plan to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe who flew to London earlier yesterday on his way to Washington for talks with President George W. Bush.

The details of the rebel plan were not immediately announced by Norway or the rebels, but the government's top peace negotiator, G. L. Peiris, said they were expected to make their first response known by this morning.

The Tigers have never before put down their political proposals in writing and had only rejected proposals put forward by consecutive Colombo governments.

In their latest move, the Tigers are expected to seek a six-year term for an interim council that would take over the virtual administration of the northeast before a final deal is concluded, diplomatic sources said.

They said the proposals were believed to be "reasonable and do-able" within the Sri Lankan Constitution which envisages a degree of political autonomy to its provinces.

Power-sharing bid

* The rebel blueprinted given to the Norwegian envoy is the first time the Tigers have made a written proposal.

* The government's response is expected later today.

* The Tigers are reportedly seeking an interim council to administer the northeast of the country before a peace deal is reached, made up of Tamils, Sinhalese and Muslims.

* No decommissioning of rebel arms before a new constitution is enacted.

However, the rebels would not decommission their weapons or disband their combat units until a new constitution is enacted, the privately run Sunday Leader daily said, quoting a draft proposal.

The newspaper said the LTTE envisaged a system under which it could negotiate direct foreign loans and have greater control over the use of land. These concessions were offered by Colombo in previous peace plans.

The Tigers want to offer representation in the 100-member interim council to the Sinhalese, who are a minority in the rebel-dominated areas, and to Muslims, the report said. The support of Muslims is seen as crucial for the success of any peace deal.

Muslims are the second largest minority, comprising 7.5 percent of the population.The government has a slender two-seat majority in parliament and depends on the support of 12 Muslim legislators.

The Tigers said setting up an interim administration for embattled regions was a pre-condition for end-ing their boycott of the peace talks. They sus-pended their participation in talks in April after accusing the government of failing to deliver on promises made in previous talks.

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