9th August 1998
The present Vedda chief Vanniyalage Aththo presenting
a statue carved by the vedda community as a souvenir to
President Chandrika Kumaratungaat the President House
Pic by Shane Seneviratne.
Following explosions in Nairobi and Dar-es Salam
Embassy bomb toll rises but culprits still not known
By Ayesha R. Rafiq
The Government yesterday stepped up security precautions at the United States embassy and installations in Sri Lanka in the aftermath of Friday's simultaneous bomb blasts in the East African capitals of Nairobi and Dar-es Salam.
US embassy's security officials had over the weekend requested the authorities for extra security, a spokesman told The Sunday Times last night.
"This was only done as a routine measure because of the severity and apparent orchestration of the two attacks," he said.
The embassy spokesman said a meeting had been convened with the principal officials in the embassy, and the security provisions in the country reviewed — a routine procedure when such a situation occurs.
Police headquarters has already ordered the deployment of additional security cover to the US Embassy, the US Information Service, US AID and the American Centre.
They took up position on Friday night as news of the bomb explosions in Kenya and Tanzania shock the world.
According to latest reports from Nairobi, the death toll from Friday's car bomb attack there has reached 132 including 10 Americans, U.S. ambassador Prudence Bushnell said.
She told a news conference that an earlier figure of 108 dead given by the Kenyan government did not include 10 U.S. citizens and 14 Kenyans killed in the U.S. embassy itself.
In Washington, President Bill Clinton pledged yesterday the United States will "never give up" the search for those behind powerful car bomb explosions at the two U.S. embassies.
"No matter how long it takes or where it takes us we will pursue terrorists until the cases are solved and justice is done," the US president said in his weekly radio address.
He appeared to be preparing Americans for what could be a long, arduous search for the perpetrators of explosions minutes apart on Friday at embassy buildings in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar-es Salam, Tanzania.
Counter-terrorism teams were sent to the blast site yesterday and were beginning "the painstaking process of determining what kind of bomb it was and if there are any clues as to who might be responsible," said White House spokesman P.J. Crowley.
U.S. officials said that they were not aware of any credible claim of responsibility for the bombings, which complicated the task of finding who was responsible and why they did it.
The main suspects are Middle eastern Muslim extremists who have made recent threats against the United States, but who may not claim responsibility because of the possibility of getting caught.
The United Lalith Front MPs say they are no longer being allocated time to speak in parliament by the government's chief whip.
According to ULF MP Ravi Karunanayake, the chief whip has not allocated time to them despite repeated requests by members, including party leader Srimani Athulathmudali.
The government's Chief Whip and Education Minister Richard Pathirana was not available, for comment, but PA General Secretary D. M. Jayaratne denied the claim that "an unofficial policy of stifling the ULF voice" was being adopted by the PA. He said he could not commnet on time allocations, as it did not come under his purview.
During the AirLanka debate in June, Mr. Karunanayake though being a member of the government was given time by the opposition to speak out on the deal.
Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has removed his foreign minister, Gohar Ayub Khan, hardly a week after the two of them attended the SAARC summit in Colombo. Mr. Khan has been relegated to head the ministry of Water and Power.
A senior Norwegian member of the UN Human Rights Commission's sub-commission on the prevention of discrimination against minorities has accused the LTTE leadership of acquiring an almost 'paranoid garrison mentality' and said that the Movement, particularly its leadership 'regrets no human rights.'
In a severe criticism of the LTTE last Thursday, Asbjorn Eide has called upon the international community and international NGOs and governments to convince the Tamils in their respective countries of the need for a accommodation.
In what diplomatic circles see as a firm departure from this earlier stance, Eide, a one time critic of the Sri Lanka Government accused the LTTE of causing havoc and fear among all communities living in Sri Lanka, including Tamils.
International NGOs who lend their support to the LTTE came in for particular criticism.
"They are then not supporting the Tamil cause but an utterly undemocratic movement, unable to contemplate peace in any form," Eide told the Geneva meeting of the sub-commission. Speaking on the country's situation (Sri Lanka) during a packed hearing attended by several LTTE and pro-Eelam sympathisers, Eide said:
"I shall now turn from that case to that of Sri Lanka. Some of my colleagues have been here long enough to remember that I, in 1983, was the first to criticise the government of Sri Lanka for its lack of effective measures to investigate the authors of the massacres against Tamils in the summer of 1983, including the killing of political prisoners in the Welikada prison. I know also that many in Sri Lanka subsequently regretted that they did not listen to the suggestion we then made, which were to take prompt action to restore law and order, to punish those responsible, and to involve the International Committee of the Red Cross. "But very much has changed since 1983. Among the Tamils, an extremely militant group emerged calling itself the Tigers, abbreviated LTTE. Its leadership has developed an almost paranoid garrison mentality. That Movement or particularly its leadership respects no human rights. It engages in the most heinous crimes, using female, male and possibly even child suicide bombers to create havoc and fear. Its killing is directed not only at Sinhala enemies, including civilians, and their
By Dilrukshi Handunnetti
The Parliamentary Committee on public enterprises has run into rough seas over the privatization of Queen Elizabath Quay with six members from all parties accusing the committee chairman of covering up a deal that is inimical to national interest.
The six government and opposition MPs have written to Committee Chairman Reggie Ranatunga saying they want to dissociate themselves from consequences of the dubious privatization in the Colombo Port.
In a letter the members have alleged that the COPE Chairman is reluctant to summon Ports Authority officials before COPE for an inquiry fearing that ''undisclosed information and hidden motives will surface.''
The MPs claim that the summoning of Ports officials by COPE for an inquiry is well within standing orders, though the Chairman thinks otherwise.
The letter also raises important issues such as calling tenders for the development of a South Port on BOT terms while at the same time consenting to develop breakwaters at a cost of Rs. 23-30 billion.
The letter also questions as to why the government would provide an underwriting to the ADB loan which is to be negotiated and if so, whether the granting of this loan would affect any other lendings in the country. The MPs allege that the South Asian Gateway Terminal which will manage the Quay intends recruiting only 500 employees, thus throwing the other 1300 out of jobs.
COPE member Ravi Karunanayake said that by the year 2005 the Port will be called upon to handle 3.5 million containers, but the privatisation would only increase container handling upto 2.5 million only.
"Our argument is that this transaction like AirLanka privatisation is detrimental to national interest. We are unhappy about the way COPE has conducted itself and the manner in which our Chairman has acted,'' said Mr. Karunanayake whose United Lalith Front is still a constituent member of the PA. The other PA member who signed the protest letter is the LSSP's Vasudeva Nanayakkara.
religious temples, but also against its Tamil opponents, including the courageous Tamil woman who was until recently the Mayor of Jaffna until assassinated by the Tigers. Many Tamils, including those who are struggling for a devolution of power and greater influence for the Tamils, live under constant threat of assassination by the LTTE. What baffles me is that there are still international non-governmental organisations who lend their support to this movement. They are then not supporting the Tamil cause but an utterly undemocratic movement unable to contemplate peace in any form.
"In 1994, a new President was elected in Sri Lanka, and the government has presented a package of devolution which goes as far as any government can possibly do. There is no doubt in my mind that the President is genuine, and that many or probably most Tamils would be happy if the package could be accepted. But the LTTE does not want it to happen.
"The LTTE is battling for the minds and the money of the expatriate Tamil community. In order to continue its fruitless and endless war, the Tigers depend on this external financial support from which to purchase weapons and other means. The international community, the international NGOs and governments should now seek to convince the Tamil communities in their respective countries that the way to achieve Tamil human rights is through an accommodation based on equality for all in the island of Sri Lanka, full respect for the cultures of the Sinhala, Tamils, Muslims and others, and a devolution of power which makes it possible through peaceful democratic means to ensure the conditions for the survival and reproduction of the Tamil culture.
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