Wanted by the Interpol and procurer of arms and funds for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) from the international market, Selvarasa Pathmanathan, was appointed head of the rebel outfit on Tuesday.
A late night statement from the “LTTE headquarters” from an undisclosed location said that the ‘executive committee’ wished to ‘officially’ announce that Pathmanathan, would from now on lead the Tamils’ ‘freedom struggle’.
LTTE chief V Prabhakaran had made Pathmanathan the outfit’s international relation chief in January.
The announcement seemed to have opened a new chapter on the not-so-tacit war of succession in the LTTE — which continues to have an effective international network to mop up funds among the diaspora — triggered after Prabhakaran was announced dead by the Sri Lankan government on May 19.
Soon after conflicting announcements were made about Prabhakaran’s death; one faction of the Tamil diaspora claiming he was alive, the other admitting his “martyrdom’’.
Pathmanathan himself had first claimed Prabhakaran was alive, and then changed his opinion.
The pro-LTTE website, TamilNet, quoting unnamed sources said: “LTTE watchers said that the new formation has the burden to prove its credibility with the grass root at home and among the diaspora that aspire not incumbencies but a strong mass organisation to address the national cause.’’
Tuesday’s statement ended with a warning to the Lankan government.
“If the Sinhala nation and those countries which support it consider that the Tamil peoples’ freedom struggle has been defeated through the capture of the historical homeland areas of the Tamil people and the massacre of thousands of Tamil civilians, we shall consider that an illusion.”
The government declared in May that its forces had crushed the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and ended the civil war that began in 1983.
It was not immediately clear whether Pathmanathan would get the support of an estimated 8,00,000 Tamil expatriates living in Britain, Canada, Australia and other countries.
Jaffna highway opened after 27 years
One of the most important highways in Sri Lanka, A9, which connects the Jaffna peninsula in the north to Kandy in central Lanka, was opened to commuter traffic for the first time in 27 years on Wednesday.
The 318 km-long road had been closed since the ‘80s because of the war with the LTTE. Large areas adjoining the road were under Tiger control. The LTTE political and administrative headquarters Killinochchi was located on either side of the road in north Sri Lanka.
Even after Jaffna was wrested by government troops in 1995, the road remained out of bounds for the general public. On Sunday, five bus loads of civilians would be the first non-combatants to travel on the A9 after years.
The transport ministry is making arrangements to commence bus operations from Jaffna to Vavuniya, Anuradhapura, and Kandy.