The Tamil National Alliance (TNA), an umbrella of pro-LTTE Tamil political parties, boycotted a meeting with President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Thursday evening, demanding a suspension of military operations as a precursor to talks.
It was the first time since the LTTE-government ceasefire broke down in January 2008 and since the rebels were banned in January this year that Rajapaksa had sent a missive to the TNA for talks. The talks also had assumed importance as it came in the background of continuing military success of the government against the Tamil rebels. On Thursday, the military said that the LTTE was now confined to 21.5 square kilometres in the north-eastern district of Mullaitivu.
But the TNA leadership after an internal meeting decided not to attend it. “The humanitarian crisis in the north was not part of the agenda. What is there to discuss then?’’ asked TNA MP M Senathirajah
The TNA laid down a number of conditions for the beginning of any talks with the Rajapaksa-led coalition, primary among them being the cessation of hostilities. It alleged that the Lankan military was bombing civilians in the ‘no-fire’ zone.
“Sri Lankan armed forces have been bombing the safe zone areas by air and artillery fire killing on an average between 40 to 50 civilians on a daily basis and causing grave injuries to civilians many times more,’’ the TNA said.