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Govt proposals contained Apex Body for the North-East
The UNF Government's latest seven page proposals, rejected by the LTTE on Friday, envisage the setting up of an Apex Body (council) for the North East but make no reference to an interim administration.

This "policy advisory and review board," an interim measure pending negotiations and final agreement, was to be vested with the responsibility for "planning, prioritizing and monitoring of implementation of programmes and projects undertaken in the north and east."

This is contained in a note titled "Agreement between the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) regarding administrative and financing arrangements to expedite efficient implementation of programmes and projects relating to relief, rehabilitation and development in the north and east."

The note has been directed by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to Norwegian Foreign Minister Jan Peterson for onward transmission to LTTE Chief Negotiator Anton Balasingham. It was delivered in the Wanni on Thursday by Norwegian Embassy's Tomas Stanteland.

The Sunday Times learns that Premier Wickremesinghe's note containing the draft agreement was prepared after consultation with Colombo-based diplomats of donor countries and Attorney General K.C. Kamalasabeyson.

In terms of the draft agreement, the Apex Body was to direct the use of all funds derived from the Government and the donors that would be utilized by state Agencies, NGOs (including TRO - Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation, an LTTE backed body), international agencies and the private sector for rehabilitation, reconstruction and development projects, schemes and programmes. It was to be headed by a Special Commissioner to be appointed by the Government in consultation with the LTTE.

LTTE Chief Negotiator Anton Balasingham on Friday rejected the draft agreement as unacceptable. He said the Government has not addressed the critical issue of setting up an "interim administrative structure for the north-east as suggested by the LTTE leadership."

Bernard Goonetilleke, head of the Secretariat for Co-ordinating the Peace Process (SCOPP) told The Sunday Times the Government was studying the LTTE response. "A decision on whether or not to respond has not yet been made," he said.

See Situation Report by Iqbal Athas for full details of the Government's draft proposals and related stories.

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