Sri Lanka outlaws LTTE with immediate effect (Lead)

January 7th, 2009 - 11:14 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, Jan 7 (IANS) The Sri Lankan government Wednesday banned the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), terming it a terrorist organisation. “The LTTE is banned from today,” Agriculture Development Minister Maithiripala Sirisena, who is also general secretary of the ruling Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), told reporters at a special media briefing.

He said the LTTE from now on will face all the consequences as a terrorist organisation.

The government’s decision came a week after the ground troops advancing from various directions dealt a body blow to the rebels by capturing the rebels’ politico-administrative hub Kilinochchi, 350 km north of here.

Sirisena said President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is also minister of defence, had submitted a memorandum to the cabinet earlier in the day proscribing the LTTE as a terrorist organisation under the emergency laws. “The cabinet has unanimously approved it,” he added.

Rajapaksa on Dec 22 threatened to outlaw the LTTE as a terrorist group if it did not allow Tamils living in its control to move to government-held areas at the dawn of 2009.

Political analysts say that the banning the LTTE is largely a formal move as those who have links with the LTTE are already being prosecuted under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and other laws.

The LTTE has already been listed as a terrorist organisation in various countries, including India, Britain and the US as well as the EU.

The LTTE was first banned in Sri Lanka in 1983 with the introduction of the emergency regulation and it was automatically revoked when the emergency regulation was withdrawn in 1987.

The ban was re-imposed Jan 25, 1998, after the LTTE attack on the historic Buddhist tooth-relic temple - Dalada Maligawa - in the central hill district of Kandy.

The ban was revoked in September 2002 after the signing of the Norwegian-brokered ceasefire agreement to facilitate peace talks between the then Sri Lankan government and the LTTE.

The Rajapaksa administration, which was already on a full-fledged war with the rebels, unilaterally pulled out from the Norwegian-brokered truce Jan 16 last year.

The LTTE has been fighting against the Sri Lankan state to carve out a separate state for Tamils in the northern and eastern parts of the island for a quarter century.

Thousands have died in escalating fighting since late 2005.

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