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SLMM seeks to confine Navy

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The head of truce monitors wants the Sri Lanka Navy to confine its exercises, particularly live firing, to specified areas at sea. He also wants to carve out separate areas for Sea Tigers for training and live firing after repeating his earlier call to recognize them as a "de facto naval unit."

No detections or inspections of Sea Tiger vessels will be permitted for the Sri Lanka Navy in these carved out areas without SLMM monitors. In effect, for the Sri Lanka Navy, these areas will be “no go” zones unless the monitors are with them.

Retired Norwegian Maj. Gen. Triggve Tellefsen's latest recommendations are contained in what he calls "adjusted proposals," the contents of which are more controversial than his original "Initial Discussion Paper," now at the centre of a national debate.

The call to restrict exercises by a sovereign nation's Navy tasked to protect the country's territorial integrity raises serious questions on whether the SLMM chief has the mandate to make such a recommendation. Such a call, in accordance with the Constitution and other laws of the land, could be made legally only by the President who is Commander-in-Chief, the Minister of Defence, the Commander of the Navy or those in the subordinate command authorized by them.

The four-page document is accompanied by a map clearly marking out areas in the western and eastern territorial waters where Sea Tigers should be allowed to conduct exercises and live firing.

In the western territorial waters, the marked out area extends five nautical miles from the shore, from south of Karativu (near Pooneryn) to near Velankulam, further north of Vidutaltivu. In the east, it also extends five nautical miles, southwards of Mulliyan (east of Elephant Pass) to Mullaitivu. This is for training exercises at sea.
An area off the shores of Mullaitivu, extending eight nautical miles from the shore, has been marked out for live firing exercises.

In his Initial Discussion Paper, Maj. Gen. Tellefsen only called for the recognition of the Sea Tigers as a "de facto naval unit" and said that Tiger guerrillas should be excluded from the law concerning limitations on outboard motors. If accepted, this would allow them to use boats of any capacity.

However, in the adjusted proposals, the SLMM chief has argued that during the Ceasefire Agreement the Sea Tigers existed as a de facto naval unit and quotes the Advanced Oxford Dictionary definition to support his recommendation.

With regard to exercise and training areas, his proposals make clear that the Navy "must confine their exercises; especially live firing exercises, to specified exercises and training areas." He adds, "The LTTE Sea Tigers should be allocated exercise and training areas at sea, designed for navigation training and for live firing exercises as well."

If the proposals contained in Maj. Gen. (retd) Tellefsen's original Initial Discussion Paper impinged on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka, his latest adjusted proposals compounds the situation further. See Situation Report by Iqbal Athas for a detailed account.

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