President’s spokesman cautions SLMM

by Kesara Abeywardena
President Chandrika Kumar-atunga’s spokesman Harim Peiris yesterday cautioned the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission to be "careful about what it says as it would lose credibility."

However he "reserved comment" on the SLMM statement regarding the sinking of a Chinese fishing trawler by the LTTE which has attracted severe criticism from various quarters as the blame had been put on an unnamed third party.

He said that according to the SLMM the LTTE did not seem to be the sole representative of the Tamil community as it posed to be since there were other parties as well that engaged in combat activities using boats. He did not further comment on the matter.

Speaking at a press briefing at the Presidential Secretariat yesterday the President’s Spokesman said that President Kumaratunga remained completely committed to the process of finding a permanent peace in the country through a negotiated settlement. "As the head of state of Sri Lanka I give the people of Sri Lanka including those who belong to and support the LTTE the assurance that whatever happens to be the government of the day the process of seeking a peaceful resolution to our conflict will proceed without a pause," quoting the President, Harim Peiris said.

He also noted that the President remained committed to cohabitation with the UNP government since she had acted with great restraint to make cohabitation work by allowing the government to carry out its work without a hindrance.

When questioned about the reason for the President for giving an assurance regarding the continuation of the peace process, he said that the LTTE spokesman had made comments recently raising questions about the continuation of the peace process in the case of a change of government.

He pointed out that it was President Chandrika Kumaratunga who initiated the peace process with the facilitation of the Norwegian government. "In fact the list of goods that should be allowed to the Vanni had been drawn up before this government came into power," he said.

On the PA-JVP alliance he said that it was proceeding and there were no problems. "The delay is due to discussions that are taking place on principles and policy matters. This is not an alliance only to gain power which in the past had proved to be unstable."

He said that the President wished the discussions to be successful. But he did not give a time frame by which the agreement would be signed.