Camp relocation done with army’s advice — GL

By Kesara Abeywardena
Government spokesman and chief negotiator Minister G. L. Peiris yesterday said the relocation of army camps in Jaffna had been done with the advice of the army and in a manner that would not be detrimental to national security.

Speaking at the cabinet press briefing Minister Peiris said that the decision to relocate army camps was not spontaneous but a matter the government had been considering for the past three months. He said the relocation of army camps in Subash and Gnanam hotels were very important in the normalisation process which is a critical aspect of the ceasefire agreement.

He said apart from the two hotels the army was also occupying around 45 houses belonging to civilians. He said the present location of the army camp was making the access to the Jaffna hospital difficult and was an impediment to civilian activities. "This is to make life easy for the people," he said.

He noted that the army continued to be within the Jaffna Municipal limits and that the relocation was to be done after a series of recommendations by Major General Lohan Gunawardena and Major General Sarath Fonseka. "There is no threat to the security of the country due to this relocation," he said.

Minister Peiris reiterated that the relocation was not done due to any undue pressure from the LTTE but as part of the normalisation process. He explained that the sites for the relocation of the camps were selected after careful inspection to see whether they suited the needs of the army and security concerns.

He added that the proposals were considered by the army and high army officers including Army Commander Lieutenant General Lionel Balagalle had taken the decision of the place of relocation.

He further said that the resettlement of displaced persons was of high priority in the normalisation process and therefore the necessary atmosphere should be created for the displaced to resettle.