Tigers block EPDP Delft office

by Shamindra Ferdinando and Norman Palihawadana
The EPDP yesterday accused the LTTE of blocking the re-opening of its Delft office which was closed down several weeks ago subsequent to an LTTE-led attack on it.

"A group of EPDP cadres returned to the island on Saturday to resume political work there," a senior party spokesman said. But the LTTE forced a large group of people to surround the office. They blocked the entrance, he said, adding the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) and the police were informed of the situation. LTTE cadres led the protests, the source said.

About 40 EPDP cadres arrived in Delft in a naval craft in the morning.

The EPDP said the LTTE forced some people to complain to the SLMM about their presence.

IGP T. E. Anandarajah said additional police were deployed in the Delft island subsequent to a request by the EPDP. He said the party sought deployment of police as it wanted to resume political activity.

"About 100 policemen were deployed," he said, expressing the relief that increased police presence would improve the situation there.

Several weeks ago the LTTE forced the EPDP cadres to flee the island after it was allowed to move in following a cease-fire agreement reached in February.

The EPDP stressed it was not prepared to accept the LTTE’s stance that other groups could not function in the north-east. The TULF-led TNA designated the LTTE the sole-representative of the Tamil speaking people, not us, the spokesman said.

The EPDP, which is represented in parliament said it expects the government to ensure all political parties are allowed to engage in political activities in the north-east.

Under the cease-fire agreement the EPDP was among Tamil groups that were disarmed.

Delft protests came as high level government and LTTE delegations met at Muhamalai, Jaffna to discuss a range of security issues including re-opening of some roads, particularly the Point Pedro Nagarkovil road on the Vadamaratchchy coast, resettlement of civilians in areas designated as high security sectors and further relaxation of fishing restrictions.

The two delegations were led by Defence Secretary Austin Fernando and Theepan, in charge of LTTE units deployed in the Jaffna theatre. It was chaired by Major General Trond Furnhorde, head of the SLMM and its chief representative in Jaffna.

It was the first district-level meeting involving the 18-member Sub-committee on De-escalation and Normalisation (SDN). It is jointly headed by Defence Secretary Austin Fernando and Ampara-Batticaloa military leader Karuna.

The SDN first met at Omanthai on November 10. It decided to hold district level meetings beginning with one at Tellipallai in Jaffna on Saturday. It was to be followed by meetings at Vavuniya today, Batticaloa (November 20), Trincomalee (21) and Ampara (23). A sub-committee source said all members will not take part in the district level meetings. A few members of the SDN will meet with senior officers and LTTE leaders in charge of respective district before the SDN meets again on December 14.

The SDN was among three committees set up to handle security, political and immediate humanitarian work in the north-east. The sub-committee on humanitarian work will meet at the GA’s Office at Kilinochchi today.