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Q: At the last meeting with the President, the TULF delegation made a strong plea for a cease-fire. What was her response?
A: She did not disagree. We told her there could be no end to the suffering of the people in the North until hostilities ended. We wanted the President to consider serious measures to end the war. She appreciated our views. It is a matter that needs to be worked upon by both parties in the conflict. They must negotiate.
Q: Briain's Deputy Foreign Secretary Liam Fox has said that Britain is ready to mediate if both parties to the conflict want a political settlement. What do you feel about this?
A: The role of a mediator would be of immense value. Both parties should agree upon a mediator and the role of such a mediator. If an end to the fighting could be achieved, doors will also be opened for political negotiations on some substantive issues. The mediator could play a useful role there too.
Q: Your party President has said India not Britain must mediate. What is your view?
A: Basically the two parties to the conflict should decide on the mediator.
Q: The government is still insisting on, it will go ahead with the North-East Coordinating Committee. Could you explain the TULF stand on this issue?
A: At the last meeting between the President and the TULF, this matter was not discussed specifically. But the TULF politburo took up this issue at its last meeting. The general view of the politburo was that there had to be a political solution to the conflict and any other institutional arrangements would not help.
Q: The TULF had several rounds of talks with the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress regarding the unit of devolution in the North-East Province. Has the TULF come to an understanding with the SLMC?
A: The talks with the SLMC are progressing well and a stage has been reached in which concerns of all parties can be amicably addressed.
Q: Some sections of the TULF are pessimistic about the UNP's approach to the political package presented by the PA government. TULF leaders, including you, have had several rounds of talks with UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe and others. Your views?
A: The UNP has not taken an official stand on some of the political issues relating to devolution. Discussions with UNP leaders at various levels are in progress. It is important to note that the UNP has not officially expressed its opposition to the devolution proposals as had been done by the major party in opposition whenever the governments presented a set of proposals in an effort to resolve the ethnic problem in the past. In my view, the UNP could play a constructive role if a cease-fire is brought about. Talks with the UNP should continue.
Twenty two police officers including a Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) accused of irregularities have been interdicted during the past two months, according to official sources.
Seven of these officers have been interdicted pending inquiries on the allegations against them. At least 93 others have been transferred from their stations on similar allegations.
Among the allegations against these officers are the releasing of terrorist suspects without following proper procedures and the failure to produce court productions in time.
Residents and the Road Development Authority (RDA) are at loggerheads over the proposed Colombo-Katunayake expressway with the former accusing the latter of hiding the facts from them.
The residents who have formed an association said when surveyors first came to the area they told them a modern drainage system was to be built.
"But after we made inquiries, we found out that the surveys were for the proposed expressway," one resident said.
The association which comprises residents from Wanawasala, Wattala, Hunupitiya and Mabola said its pleas to politicians and authorities concerned had fallen on deaf ears.
Apart from dislocating more than 2,000 families, the expressway will also have hazardous effects on the environment, the residents said.
An Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) has not been done and no mention has been made on the compensation they would receive if the project is implemented, they said.
An earlier proposal for the Colombo-Katunayake expressway was for a road from the airport running through the Muthurajawela marshland along the old Dutch canal and over the Kelani river to Mattakkuliya. It was to be joined by ring roads to the Kandy road, Colombo, Baseline road and the Negombo road. This proposal however, never saw the light of day.
Since then three other routes have been proposed with the present route under consideration running parallel to the railway track.
The residents say the RDA has not looked at other alternatives and suggest that the plan proposed 30 years to build the expressway along the old Dutch canal route be adopted. They also suggest that the existing Colombo/Negombo road be widened for this purpose or that the rail line from Colombo to Negombo be developed.
RDA General Manager P. B. L. Cooray told The Sunday Times the five-billion rupee highway project would be implemented.
Responding to charges leveled at the RDA, Mr. Cooray said an EIA had been done but was not yet out for public comment. He said the basis for providing compensation for the residents had not been decided as yet and denied that schools and places of religious worship would be destroyed if the project was implemented.
A civilian group of Valikaman has written to the Army Commander describing the hardships people are likely to go through if the LTTE is allowed to administer the North and called on the people of the area to cooperate with the government in bringing peace to the Tamil people.
For the past 13 years the Tamils in the North have undergone immense difficulties mainly due to the mistakes of politicians and the earlier government and the LTTE has capitalized on these, telling the people they will gain freedom for the Tamils, the letter said. Calling on the government to act firmly against terrorism it said the LTTE had sent intelligence groups to Colombo paying huge sums to bombers to carry out bomb blasts in order to make out they were a strong force.
The group citing, several incidents of LTTE extortion and terror networks called on the government that under no circumstances the LTTE be allowed to administer the North.
The letter said 50% of those who went to Colombo during the period 1993-1996 were appointed by the intelligence wing of the LTTE. These people they believe operate small shops, and are lorry owners and drivers, who pass information on to Kilinochchi, Vavuniya and other places in the North to LTTE contacts.
The civic group in its letter urged the government to open the Elephant Pass route, the closure of which has helped the LTTE to earn money by way of tolls from the people who use the Kilaly lagoon. The group has requested the government to make available telecommunication facilities in the North since most people travel to Colombo to obtain financial assistance from relatives. If the government can set up agencies in Jaffna through which funds could be channelled it would reduce their need to travel, they claimed.
The group has called upon the government not to give in to the LTTE demands, which they said would be more beneficial to the LTTE than to the people. Demands such as the removal of prohibition on essential goods, the opening of Pooneryn route, the lifting of the prohibition of fishing and freedom to operate without obstruction in the East can be highly dangerous and will in the end be detrimental to the Tamil people, the letter pointed out.Continue to the News/Comment page 2 - Seminar on Computer Crime, Emergency: LSSP decides monthly, Four soldiers killed: heavy Tiger losses, Doctors to ignore Fowzie's circular, Immigrants return, Janashakthi opens new branch at N'goda, Kadirgamar holds child sex talks, Power puzzle at Meegastenna
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