Monks flay Sri Lankan Govt over Swiss talks outcome

The all-Buddhist monk party known as the JHU said the outcome of Geneva talks went against President Rajapaksa's poll promises.
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Published on Feb 28, 2006 08:17 PM IST
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None | ByPress Trust of India, Colombo

Sri Lanka's influential Buddhist clergy on Tuesday flayed the government over a pledge to neutralise anti-Tiger Tamil militants during talks in Switzerland.

The all-Buddhist monk party known as the JHU, or national Heritage Party, said the outcome of last week's talks with the Tamil Tiger guerrillas went against President Mahinda Rajapaksa's election promises.

The JHU said the Colombo government had also agreed to replace the Norwegian head of the truce monitoring panel with a Swedish national and the move could help the Tigers gain recognition among European Member states where they currently face strictures.

"Having a Swede is worse because this gives them de facto recognition in the European Union because Sweden is a member of the EU," JHU spokesman Champaka Ranawaka said.

He said it had failed to amend the ceasefire agreement as promised to the electorate and had instead given a pledge to disarm anti-Tamil militant groups, especially in the island's restive east where a breakaway faction led by V Muralitharan, better known as Karuna, functions.

"The government must not only disarm other militant groups, but must start the process from the LTTE. They must start before the next round of talks."

At the talks in Switzerland, the government initially insisted on re-writing the February 2002 truce arranged by peace broker Norway.

But after the Tigers resisted the move and threatened to walk out, Colombo backed down and agreed to uphold the ceasefire.

The JHU has nine members in the 225-member national parliament.

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