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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2769

More anti-LTTE dissident factions emerging, says Sri Lanka to US

Daya Gamage – US National Correspondent for Asian Tribune

Washington, D.C. 19 May ( The U.S. Department of State was told that Sri Lanka government has credible information that there are more dissident groups, like the Karuna group, are emerging within the ranks of the Liberation Tigers (LTTE) and the Tamil diaspora, and every time such dissident groups emerge the separatist Tamil Tigers cannot expect the government to neutralize them on its behalf.

The Secretary of Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Plan Implementation and Adviser to the nation’s president on economic affairs Ajith Nivard Cabraal gave Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Richard Boucher a briefing at the State Department here yesterday May 18 when he met the latter to discuss his country’s volatile political situation.

Sri Lanka’s ambassador to the United States Bernard Goonetilleke, his Deputy Chief of Mission Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha and First Secretary Dhammika Semasinghe were associated with Mr. Cabraal at this meeting.

Vinayagamurthy Muralidharan alias Colonel Karuna, a battle-seasoned commander of LTTE leader Prabhakaran, broke away from the rebel group about two years ago due to internal disagreements, and is now leading a well-trained dissident cadres against the Tamil Tigers. The Tigers at that time announced that it was an internal problem but later accused the government and the army for collaboration with the dissident group to attack Tamil Tiger positions which the government denied. The LTTE has asked the government to disarm the Karuna faction which the government has continuously said that it was not going to interfere in LTTE internal affairs.

The armed para-military groups and their alleged association with the Sri Lanka government armed forces were figured high in the agenda when the government and LTTE delegated met in mid February this year in Geneva.

With reference to the Karuna group, Mr. Cabraal observed, at his meeting with Richard Boucher at the State Department, that it was not a group with an organized structure and camps. He assured Boucher that the government was not arming or financing the Karuna group in any manner. He said that the government had kept its pledge as per the Geneva statement that it “will not allow any armed groups to operate in the government controlled areas.”

Sri Lanka president’s special envoy Ajith Nivad Cabraal reiterated his president’s firm conviction to evolve a political settlement to the conflict and emphasized that to ensure the success of such a move, it was necessary that the current peace endeavor in Sri Lanka be an “inclusive” process and that in order to see it through, it was necessary for President Rajapakse to continue to enjoy the credibility of all sections of the population.

He told the United States that under President Mahinda Rajapakse’s watch there will not be any human rights violation as he had been a human rights activists and a defender all his life and would not condone such activities.

Dismissing the LTTE distorted propaganda that the government has failed to disburse funds and assistance for tsunami rehabilitation in the predominantly Tamil North and East of Sri Lanka, Cabraal told Richard Boucher, through the District Secretaries the government had channeled assistance and they were working with the LTTE in carrying out their tasks, although the LTTE does not readily admit such assistance.

Assistant Secretary Richard Boucher, it was disclosed, will be in Sri Lanka in early June immediately after the May 30 summit of the Co-Chairs in Tokyo.

During his stay in Washington, Mr. Cabraal also met with Robert Dohner, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Asia of the US Treasury Department, Holly Vineyard, Deputy Assistant Secretary for South Asia at the Commerce Department and US Congressman Jim Leach, Chairman of the Sub Committee on Asia and the Pacific of the House International Relations Committee.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, the LTTE or popularly known as Tamil Tigers, are fighting for a separate ethnic Tamil independent state in the north and east of Sri Lanka since 1983 accusing the government, which they say is controlled by the majority ethnic community Sinhalese, of discriminating against the Tamils, which the successive governments have dismissed. Since late eighties, the Sri Lankan state has offered considerable devolution of political and administrative power to the periphery, a step forward for ethnic Sinhalese who deeply believe in unitary form of government. The LTTE, on several occasions came to the negotiating table, most recently being in Geneva, but on several occasions, unilaterally withdrew plunging the country in to political chaos and escalation of violence.

- Asian Tribune -

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