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Parties to look for foolproof solution

Rajapaksa will ask All Party Conference to draft a suitable devolution package, reports PK Balachandran.

india Updated: Jun 01, 2006 21:14 IST

Following the international donors' call for "dramatic changes" in the Sri Lankan political system to address the legitimate grievances of the Tamil and Muslim minorities, President Mahinda Rajapaka will be asking the All Party Conference (APC) to draft a suitable devolution package to solve the ethnic problem in the country.

This was conveyed to the US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, Richard A Boucher, when he called on Rajapaksa here on Thursday.

The APC is to meet in Colombo on June 2.

The US is one of the four Co-Chairs of the Tokyo Donors' Conference.

President Rajapaksa said that he would ask the APC to draft a proposal based on consensus and then seek the LTTE's views on it.

Need for indigenous solution

According to a press release from the Presidential Secretariat, Rajapaksa told Boucher that he was for an indigenous "Sri Lankan solution" to be conflict.

"The solution need not be confined to the solutions in other countries, although he did not rule out the possibility of some those solutions being suitable in the Sri Lankan context," the statement said.

The President told the American official that the pattern of LTTE's violence showed that it was seeking to provoke Sinhala-Tamil communal violence.

The attack on a ship carrying 710 Sri Lankan soldiers on the eve of the 2550th anniversary of Buddhism, and the attack in the Trincomalee market on the eve of the Sinhala and Tamil New Year, clearly betrayed this intent, he pointed out.

The LTTE was also indulging in violence and blaming the government for it he said.

In this connection, he mentioned the killing of the Tamil MP, Joseph Pararajasingham, in church on Chirstmas eve in Batticaloa, and the attack on the office of the "Uthayan" newspaper in Jaffna.

The President wondered why the government should carry out acts that would only hurt it.

He contended that the attack on "Uthayan" was staged by the LTTE only to embarrass the government at a time when an international conference of journalists was going on in Colombo to mark "World Press Freedom Day."

Crack down sought on LTTE links in Afghanistan

Meanwhile, in an edit page article in The Wall Street Journal on June 1, President Rajapaksa asked the US and the international community to stop the LTTE from buying weapons in Afghanistan and the Central Asian and East European republics.

He also pointed out that the LTTE was smuggling weapons from Thailand.

Rajapaksa said that the pattern of attacks by the LTTE and its hostile attitude towards international truce monitors showed that it was no longer interested in the peace process but in fomenting inter-communal strife.

The LTTE's demands and contentions were also unreasonable, he said.

"Their leaders even accuse us of not disarming their own rebel faction," Rajapaksa pointed out.

"Unfortunately, the international community has been slow to recognise the seriousness of the situation," the President complained.

He decried his critics' attempts to show him as a warmonger and said: " I am far from a war-monger. My government has shown enormous restraint in the face of these repeated provocations."

"I am a man of peace. I do not believe in war as a solution to the Sri Lankan situation and I am committed to walk the extra mile to achieve peace."


Call for international support for Lanka's democracy

But this needed international support, he said. He wanted the world to see what was going on in Sri Lanka as an assault on a democratic system, and sought help to defend that system.

"I cannot accomplish this task alone. So I call on friends of democracy everywhere, to do their utmost to assist Sri Lanka's democracy - and the Tamil people themselves - to face up to the terrorist threat and advance human rights, dignity and pluralism throughout Sri Lanka."

Answering the criticism that his government was not able to prevent violence in areas controlled by it, and that no perpetrators had been brought to book, Rajapaksa said that in a democracy, due process had to be followed, and acceptable evidence had to be produced before conviction.

"Government cannot carry out summary justice as an illegal organisation may be able to do," he pointed out.