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'Speedy political solution needed for ethnic tensions in Lanka'

world Updated: Nov 04, 2010 16:55 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times
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A newly appointed Catholic cardinal has said that only a speedy political solution to the festering issues of the minorities could resolve long-standing ethnic tensions in Sri Lanka.

Appearing before the government-appointed panel looking into the civil war that ended in 2009, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith said though fighting was over between government troops and Tamil Tigers, only a political solution could help in fully resolving the conflict.

According to the Island newspaper, he told the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) that the grievances of the minorities should be addressed politically.

"It is only a political solution that will help to eliminate the root causes of violent insurrection, ethnic disharmony and suspicion and mistrust between communities. We believe that the search for a political solution to the ethnic conflict must be intensified," the cardinal was quoted as having told the LLRC.

Reverend Dr Malcolm Ranjith, who is the Archbishop of Colombo, was elevated to the position of Cardinal in October and will be anointed later this month.

The Island newspaper said that the Cardinal asserted that the Sinhala Only Act and several other laws, particularly the 1972 Constitution, introduced by different governments had caused ethnic tensions and created the situation leading to a bloody war.

"He cited controversial colonisation schemes in the Northern and Eastern Provinces as another cause of ethnic tension. He called for meaningful measures in the post-war era to restore confidence among the minorities as part of a strategy to prevent bloodshed in the future," the newspaper said.

The Cardinal said attempts were being made to change the demographic make-up of northern and eastern Sri Lanka, where the ethnic Tamils were in majority.

Since the end of the war in May, 2009, the government has made progress in resettling the 300000 displaced Tamils and dismantling military-monitored camps. But critics say there’s be no progress any addressing issues raised by the Tamil community including the devolution of local administrative powers.