Prabha both president and PM of ‘Eelam’ — Bala

"Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe is the prime minister elected by the people of Sri Lanka. He is the prime minister of those people. Here in Thamil Eelam, Mr. Prabhakaran is both the president and the prime minister, declared Dr. Anton Balasingham, the LTTE ideologue.

Dr. Balasingham made this remark at the April 10 media conference given by LTTE Chief, Vellupillai Prabhakaran.

Dr. Balasingham was responding to a question by a journalist as to whether the LTTE accepts Ranil Wickremesinghe as their prime minister.

The evidence has been mounting that the LTTE considers itself a nascent nation state and that the ongoing peace process is but an attempt to gain much needed international legitimacy for the LTTE and for a future Tiger dominated independent state. The first ever press conference by the LTTE leader provided confirmation of this point of view.

Despite the generous concessions made by the Sri Lankan government, the LTTE chief refused to renounce the goal of an independent state. "The right conditions have not arisen for the LTTE to abandon the policy of an independent statehood. So far as the demand for Eelam is concerned, the LTTE has not made any decision so far as whether to give up the demand or accept an alternative", Prabhakaran said. When asked if the LTTE would give up the armed struggle following a permanent solution, he said: "We will seriously consider renouncing our armed struggle if a solution acceptable to the people is worked out."

The press conference clearly indicated that the interim solution the LTTE has in mind would amount to de facto separation in which the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE run administration of the North and the East (the Tamil Homeland) would exist side by side as two autonomous and equal entities, with Wickremesinghe as the PM of one and Mr. Prabhakaran as the president and the PM of the other. Mr. Prabhakaran himself provided confirmation of this when he said that the interim administration would be to the advantage of the Sinhalese as well as Tamils because Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe will have the space to build up Southern Sri Lanka economically.

His comments on the issue of the LTTE’s taxes further confirmed that the LTTE considers itself to be the sole legitimate administration of the "Tamil Homeland" "just as the Sri Lanka government taxes Sri Lankans in its controlled areas to run the state administration, to run the administration in our controlled areas, we levy a tax system."

The LTTE’s other consideration is to gain international legitimacy and therein its demand for the immediate de-banning of the LTTE. Mr. Prabhakaran said "It is true that several countries have imposed a ban on the LTTE. These bans were imposed on our organisation because of the malicious campaign launched by the Sri Lankan government against our organisation. This is why I have requested the Sri Lankan government to de-proscribe our organisation. Once the ban is lifted in Sri Lanka we will campaign in the world to lift the ban on our organisation."

Mr. Prabhakaran while paying tribute to PM Wickremesinghe’s commitment to peace expressed doubts about the stability of the UNP administration: "We do not think that Ranil Wickremesinghe is capable of addressing the core issues and offer us a permanent solution at this stage; because the executive powers of governance are vested with the president and his powers are limited to parliament... But we wish to insist that Ranil’s government is not politically stable or authoritative or powerful enough to take up the core demands of the Tamils and offer us a permanent solution."

Mr. Prabhakaran refused to comment on the Rajiv Gandhi issue and when some Indian journalists persisted on the subject Dr. Balasingham intervened and said no more questions would be entertained on the subject. "You are raising an issue that has happened ten years ago. It is a tragic incident and therefore we are not in a position to make any comments at this stage," he said.

Commenting on the LTTE’s war against the IPKF Dr. Balasingham said: "At a particular stage in history, the government of India wanted to help the Tamil people by resolving the problem. They mediated; and unfortunately the proposals envisaged by government of India did not satisfy the aspirations of Tamil people’s.

We had discussions, and expressed our disapproval and finally the contradictions between India and the LTTE led to an armed conflict, and the IPKF committed quite a lot of atrocities amongst our people."

The Game plan?

In the meantime the pro LTTE website, Tamil Net quoting the Jaffna Tamil Paper Uthayan reported that 50,000 people welcomed the first group of LTTE cadres to enter Jaffna according to the provisions in the MoU.

Sri Lankan soldiers who stopped the crowd some distance from the crossing point told them that they would be allowed to proceed towards Muhamalai nearer the time when the Tigers were scheduled to cross over. Initially, the crowd waited patiently in the desolate area, with soldiers handing out water amid the heat.

But the long wait and ever increasing numbers of people led to frustration with soldiers over the block and arguments soon ensued..... In the first sign of sullen animosity, some of the decorated floats began to move through the crowd towards the army line. The song ‘Intha Mun Engalin Sontha Mun’ (This land is ours) was playing from the first float when it reached the front.

While some elderly Tamil civilians were attempting to negotiate with the soldiers, sections of the crowd started smashing up barricades and broke through. Taken by surprise, the soldiers fell back and regrouped, forming another roadblock. But the crowds stormed that as well.

Pandemonium broke out when the vehicle carrying the Tigers approached the waiting crowds. Garlands and sweets were flung at the vehicle as people broke into impromptu songs and dancing, the paper said. The huge crowds then slowly started moving up the highway towards Jaffna city, led by the decorated floats.

The procession stopped temporarily at the ‘Great Heroes’ Cemetery at Kodikamam where hundreds of people joined the Tiger cadres to offer floral tributes. As the graves themselves had been destroyed by Sri Lanka soldiers who captured the area in 1996, people placed their flowers at the foot of a broken arch emblazoned with the writing ‘Brave Salutes’.

Even a torrential downpour in Kodikamam failed to dampen the spirits of the crowds as they danced to LTTE songs such as ‘Ethirikalalin Paasaraiyai Noeki Pokiroam’ (We are going towards the enemy bases) and ‘Makkal ellam Pirabakaran Pakkam’ (all people are with [LTTE leader] Pirabakaran)."
— Tisaranee Gunasekera