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"This world belongs to me, but not anymore".
A sad cobbler peeps out of his makeshift hut
just before the Urban Development Authority
(UDA) demolished the World market in Pettah
yesterday morning under its programme to 
beautify Colombo. 
Pic. by Genumu Wellage. 

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Ban on LTTE will continue

The Government last night rejected the LTTE's call for the suspension of the proscription on it and declared such a move could only be an outcome of the negotiation process.

In a six-page statement, the government charged that the LTTE's insistence on these 'pre-conditions' or 'pre-requisites' exposed its lack of seriousness in entering into meaningful talks.

It said the LTTE's demand for deproscription before talks began was unreasonable and intended to delay and, if possible, prevent talks.

"It also reflects the LTTE's unwillingness to abandon its declared goal of a separate State of Eelam, which is a clear threat to the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka," the statement added.

The Government said that "for its part it has consistently and clearly declared that it is prepared to discuss any issue or proposal for the permanent resolution of the conflict, that does not undermine the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka."

"The LTTE in its statement issued after the last meeting with Norwegian representative Erik Solheim in the Wanni on May 17 said: 'the proscription of the LTTE in Sri Lanka has become a major hurdle for the initiation of peace talks and the LTTE would never take part in the talks as a banned, illegal, terrorist organisation.' The LTTE further called upon the international community to understand that it 'cannot participate in peace talks as an illegal, criminal entity with a distorted false label as terrorists', " the government said.

"The LTTE's claim that it has been falsely labelled as a 

terrorist organisation is baseless because the record shows that its trail of unparalleled atrocities fully justifies its designation as a terrorist organisation, and thus its proscription," the government said.

The Government said it was again reiterating its commitment to a negotiated settlement of the ethnic problem in Sri Lanka, while rejecting the LTTE's goal of a separate state.

It called upon the LTTE to desist from placing one obstacle after another in the way of the peace process, and requested it to honour the statement of its leader in his speech of May 27, 2000: 'We are not imposing any pre-conditions for peace talks'.


Sinhala groups blast Govt.'s peace moves

Buddhist and Sinhala leaders yesterday called on the Government not to go ahead with peace talks and said they would launch a national campaign to bring about awareness on impending dangers.

The warning was given at a meeting organised by the National Joint Committee, the National Sangha Council, Sinhala Jatika Sangamaya and Maubima Surekeeme Sanvidhanaya at the ACBC headquarters.

In a joint resolution, the groups said Sri Lanka should continue to be a unitary state and the legislative supremacy of Parliament and the independence of the Judiciary should be maintained. It said there should be no division of the country for political or administrative purposes on the basis of ethnicity or religion as advocated by certain political and minority groups.

Jatika Sangha Sabha President Ven. Maduluawe Sobitha Nayaka Thera accused the Government of nourishing the LTTE and said peace talks would be a threat to the country.

He said the LTTE was laying down tough conditions which were an insult to the country. Though the government claimed it did not know where LTTE leader Prabha-karan was, Norwegian envoy Erik Solheim apparently knew.

Sinhala Jatika Sangamaya leader S.L. Gunasekera: "Proscription is not a tap that can be turned on and turned off according to the dictates of expediency or the whims or fancies of any person."

He said the Tigers while demanding de-proscription and treatment as equals with the Government, had not expressed any regret for any of the horrible crimes committed by them, including the bombing of Dalada Maligawa. Nor had they agreed to give up arms. "It is evident therefore that the Tigers intend retaining their arms in readiness to resume their terrorist activities at a time of their choosing even if a ceasefire is declared and negotiations begin," he said.

Mr. Gunasekera said the LTTE demands were similar to what they made at the Thimpu talks and giving in would mean capitulation to Eelam.

"We must never forget that once a separate state or even a federal state which is a stepping stone to a separate state is granted, it could never be revoked for there can then be no going back," he warned.


State film units in shoot-out

By Shelani de Silva
The National Film Corporation and the Government Film Unit have plunged into a real life clash over sophisticated laboratory equipment received from France.

The equipment worth nine million French francs had been stored by the GFU at the Information Department premises in Polhengoda and was to be installed on Wednesday. But GFU media consultant Lal Wickrama-rachchi said that in a night operation on Tuesday the NFC had grabbed the equipment and taken it away to the NFC studio at Dalugama.

NFC chairman Tissa Abeysekera hitting back at the GFU said the equipment was taken over on a presidential directive for all state film production to be brought under the NFC. In addition, Mr. Abeysekera charged that the GFU had stored the equipment in an ad hoc manner under galvanised sheets.

But the GFU spokesman denied it, saying the equipment was stored with cooling generators according to specification.

On the sidelines of the battle for the modern equipment, French Embassy's Information Secretary J. P. Swyngedauu told The Sunday Times that they would not interfere in what they saw as an internal problem.


Two ex-CJs listed as witnesses 

By Dilrukshi Handunnetti
The main opposition UNP has listed 43 witnesses including some well known legal personalities to testify in support of the proposed impeachment of Chief Justice Sarath N.Silva.

Party sources said the witnesses would include former chief justices Parinda Ranasinghe and G.P.S. de Silva, former SC Judge Ranjith Amarasinghe, top lawyers Ranjith Abeysuriya and H.L.de Silva.

Meanwhile a drafting committee of the party is looking into significant amendments in the proposed motion after constitutional expert K. N. Choksy made a highly critical evaluation of the draft on Friday.

UNP sources said that at the special parliamentary group meeting on Friday, Mr. Choksy evaluated the motion on a case by case basis but some hardliners said his analysis was based more on a three-page summary than on the 17 page draft.

Mr. Choksy identified three specific charges out of some 40 odd charges against the Chief Justice, as being prima facie acceptable, but he called for affidavits and other evidence to substantiate them. Mr. Choksy said the rest of the charges were likely to be judicially overlooked for lack of documents or other evidence.

"We should take correct decisions, and if this motion is strong in its legal claim, it is most advantageous. But it is necessary that we ensure the party and the parliamentary group do not lose face as a result," Mr. Choksy warned.

The sources said Friday's meeting was stormy with hardliner Rajitha Senaratne regularly interrupting Mr. Choksy and speaking in support of the draft.

In another turn of events, some UNP MPs are now accusing Karu Jayasuriya of collecting signatures before the MPs were given a fair chance to read and study the motion. 

Mr. Jayasuriya and Assistant leader Gamini Atukorale reportedly said all UNP MPs should sign the motion while party leader Ranil Wickremesinghe is also believed to have agreed though he wanted the amendments included.

According to party sources, 78 UNP MPs had signed the draft by Friday.

The UNP sources said they were hopeful of support from the JVP, the TULF, the TELO and the ACTC,, which together have 20 votes. Notice of the motion is likely to be given on June 6. 

According to the constitution, at least 75 MPs need to sign the motion if it is to be entertained by the Speaker. Mr.. Choksy reportedly expressed the view that under the Standing Orders, the Speaker was debarred from entertaining the resolution unless it contained full particulars of the charges.


Water union on fire

An SLFP trade union meeting at party headquarters yesterday ended in chaos amidst fisticuffs, jeering and grabbing of ballot papers.

Two cabinet ministers and two deputy ministers were due to turn up for the annual general meeting of the Sri Lanka Nidahas Sevaka Sangamaya branch of the National Water Supply and Drainage Board. None of them turned up and while some 800 members were meeting to elect new officials, arguments erupted over allegations that about 700 other members were not informed.


Deputies against graft

A group of deputy ministers have urged President Kumaratunga to take tough action to curb corruption which they say is rampant in state institutions and ministries with even top officials being involved.

Food and Marketing Deputy Minister Nandasena Herath told The Sunday Times that though they saw the corruption and malpractices, deputy ministers had little or no power to take action. Thus they were asking the President to give them authority to take legal action.

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