PA-JVP group to agitate against LTTE deproscription

by Shamindra Ferdinando

A group of PA and JVP MPs have finalised plans for a campaign against the LTTE’s bid to coerce the UNP-led UNF government to deproscribe the group before they return to the negotiating table for the Norwegian mediated face-to-face talks with the government in Thailand, political sources said yesterday. The group will also campaign against the controversial decision to discuss in Thailand the handing over of administration of the North-East to the LTTE which has been proscribed by the US, UK and India.

The group will meet the press tomorrow (19) to brief them of their ambitious campaign. "The campaign is not directed against the government," a senior spokesperson for the group said expressing the belief that the government must be made to understand the way the LTTE was taking advantage of the MoU on an indefinite ceasefire to flex their muscles in the North-East.

Minister P. Dayaratne who represents the Ampara district has been invited to join the group. The group was also in touch with other UNP MPs in a bid to secure their support for the initiative. The group believes that UNP MPs should not hesitate to join hands with their colleagues when constituent parties of the UNF government (SLMC, CWC and UPF) have reached separate agreements with the LTTE over the weekend.

The source implied that two senior PA leaders were likely to participate at the Friday’s briefing.

The group believes that there was no need even to consider lifting the ban on the LTTE before the two sides sit down for talks. "Deproscription should be considered depending on the outcome of the first few rounds of talks," the spokesperson said reminding that the LTTE has already violated a key clause of the MoU by blocking the free movement of public transport on the Kandy-Jaffna A9 road. Over a week after the road was opened, it remained closed for SLCTB and private passenger buses from the south, the source said.

The group first met on April 8 in parliament and decided to work together in a bid to protect the rights of the Sinhalese in the North-East. It was attended by 15 MPs including MEP leader Dinesh Gunawardene, M. K. D. S. Gunawardene, T. A. K. Thevarapperuma and Tissa Karaliyedde. Since then more MPs have expressed their willingness to join the group, the source said. The MPs have agreed that they have no option but to work together irrespective of political differences to fight the threat posed by the LTTE and its front political organisations in the south.

They agreed that they firmly believe that the North-East problem should have a negotiated political settlement but disagreed with the way the government has allowed the LTTE to take advantage of the Norwegian mediated MoU to its advantage.

Friday’s briefing will take place subsequent to informal discussions among some MPs that they must join hands to resist LTTE attempts to take advantage of the MoU with the government. Ven. Elle Gunawanse thero will chair the briefing.

The group has been critical of the government turning a blind eye towards the plight of the people living in the North-East. "We are not talking only about the Sinhalese. Muslims have been targeted for extortion. Hundreds of Tamil speaking teenagers have been forcibly conscripted over the past few months," the group said while expressing the belief that the Norwegian-led Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) has failed to even ensure the implementation of the so called agreement on an indefinite ceasefire.