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President kept away because of Tiger fear
By Harinda Vidanage
Amidst fresh concern and controversy over President Chandrika Kumaratunga's failure to turn up for the opening of the international Hindu conference at the BMICH, her spokesman claimed yesterday that she kept away because LTTE suspects also had been invited.

Media spokesman Harim Peiris said the security division had advised the President that attending the conference might be a security threat. Mr. Peiris said the Presidential Security Division normally asked the organisers of any meeting for a full list of invitees and it had been done in this case too. But the organisers of the World Hindu Congress conference had hurriedly sent in a second list, which included some persons from uncleared areas without giving their addresses or identity card numbers.

Mr. Peiris claimed that some of the invitees were LTTE suspects who were out on bail and therefore the President had no option but to stay away. The spokesman said security concern had also compelled the President to keep away from the PA May Day rally. He said fears regarding the President's security had grown after the killing of Army informants around Colombo and information that LTTE killer squads had infiltrated the city.

Mr. Peiris accused the UNF government of failing to implement adequate security measures. With the President staying away, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe gave the keynote address at the opening of the Hindu conference. President Chandrika Kumaratunga sent a message, saying Hinduism and the Tamil language were legacies that needed to be cherished and protected.

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