Ex-rebel commander sworn in as Sri Lanka minister

March 9th, 2009 - 11:46 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, March 9 (IANS) Former Tamil Tiger commander Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan, well-known as Karuna Amman, Monday took oath before President Mahinda Rajapaksa as the minister of national integration, minutes after joining the ruling Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP).
“At least 1,750 Tamils from the east, both men and women, including a large number of former (rebel) cadres who left the leadership of Prabhakaran with Karuna’s defection a few years ago, joined the SLFP at a special event at Temple Trees today (Monday),” the president’s office said in a statement.

Karuna Amman and 12 others obtained their membership from Rajapaksa, who is also the president of the SLFP.

Addressing the gathering Rajapaksa said most of the development work of the government was now taking place in the eastern province and stressed that there would be a “spring of new development” in the north just like “the new dawn in the east” after liberation from terror.

“When development goes ahead, the arms will fall off the hands of people,” the president said, adding the time was very near to liberate the Tamil people of the north.

Karuna Amman said he and his loyalists had decided to join the SLFP “as they saw the need to be members of a national political party that embraced all communities and people”.

Karuna Amman, who formed the Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Puligal (TMVP), quit recently and had expressed his desire to join the mainstream political parties.

“They (loyalists) did not want to continue with the name TMVP, which included the words ‘liberation Tigers’ because they were often mistaken both in Sri Lanka and abroad for the terrorism of the (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) LTTE, which they had abandoned,” the president’s office quoted the newly appointed minister as saying.

Claiming that the elusive rebels leader, Prabhakaran, had not utilised “several opportunities for peace and ensuring the rights of the Tamil people, but had misled them with the supposed strength of the LTTE”, Karuna Amman said the need of the hour was unity under good leadership which was being provided to the entire country by Rajapaksa.

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