Sri Lanka president urges LTTE to lay down weapons, surrender

October 11th, 2008 - 6:47 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, Oct 11 (IANS) Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapaksa Saturday reiterated his government’s commitment to “eradicate terrorism” in the island nation and urged the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to surrender with their weapons and enter the democratic mainstream to achieve lasting peace.Rajapaksa made these remarks at an All-Party Conference (APC) he summoned after several months to apprise its members of the current developments on his government’s effort “to eradicate terrorism, establish peace and restore democracy throughout the country”, his office said in a statement.

“I wish to once again very clearly call on the LTTE to lay down their arms and surrender. They should act in this manner and enter the democratic political process. Our aim should be to ensure the democratic political rights of our Tamil brethren,” Rajapaksa has been quoted as telling the APC.

The APC was set up in 2006 by Rajapaksa and tasked to suggest a system of devolution to solve Sri Lanka’s ethnic problem.

It met without the main opposition United National Party (UNP) and the radical Marxist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), which is considered the third political forces in the country.

Pro-LTTE Tamil National Alliance (TNA) sources said it was not invited for the APC.

Claiming that the country has “reached an important juncture in the difficult path of eradicating terrorism”, the president stressed the importance for the political forces in the country to work together “not to betray the people in their eager search for democracy and peace, away from the path of violence”.

“However difficult it may be, it is my belief that the efforts to find political solutions to political issues should be continued. It is my belief that there are no military solutions to political questions,” Rajapaksa said.

“It is our duty to ensure to the Tamil people of the North the same democratic rights as enjoyed by the people in all other parts of the country. Military operations have become necessary to eradicate terrorism from the country and enthrone democracy throughout the land,” the president said.

New entry to Saturday’s APC was the renegade rebel leader and newly appointed parliamentarian, Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan, who leads the Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Puligal (TMVP), an ally of the ruling coalition.

According to the president’s office statement, the representatives of the parties present at the conference supported Rajapaksa’s initiative “to end terrorism and restore peace in the country, and also the measures being taken to ease the temporary hardships faced by the people of the North due to the ongoing military operations”.

After several rounds of meeting, the APC early this year recommended the government to fully implement the provisions already contained in the 13th amendment to the constitution.

The 13th amendment to Sri Lanka’s constitution came after the Indo-Lanka Accord in 1987 and talks about devolving powers to the provincial councils as a unit of devolution.

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