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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 79

Amid danger of civil war, Sri Lankan president visits ......

Amid danger of civil war, Sri Lankan president visits New Delhi

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse chose to make his first foreign visit to New Delhi in late December, in order to seek greater backing from the Indian government as the danger of a return to civil war heightens on the island.

Rajapakse narrowly won the presidential election in November with the backing of the Sinhala chauvinist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) and Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU). In the course of the campaign, he and his allies stirred up communal sentiment with a series of provocative demands on the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), including the replacement of the current peace facilitator, Norway, by India.

The JVP and JHU have repeatedly accused Norway of bias towards the LTTE. India on the other hand is seen as far more likely to take a tough stance against any concession to Tamil separatism and, in the event that the “peace process” fails, an important ally in any renewed war. New Delhi, however, which was compelled to withdraw its troops from northern Sri Lanka after a disastrous “peace-keeping” mission in the late 1980s, has been reluctant to become too closely involved.

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