Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Poll pledge for Sri Lanka Tamils

Sri Lanka's reconciliation minister says elections will be held in areas affected by recent fighting once displaced people have been resettled.

Mr Muralitharan wants a future for Tamils in the political process
Vinayagamoorthi Muralitharan, a former rebel commander who was known as Col Karuna, said the polls would address the grievances of the Tamil minority.

More than 250,000 people have been displaced by months of fighting in the north and east of the island.

Meanwhile two Indian envoys have arrived to discuss the Tamil situation.

'Very good'

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Muralitharan, who defected from the Tamil Tigers in 2004, said he hoped the Tamil people would be involved in the future political process. "Our government tried to solve this problem through the political system. After resettlement in the north we are going to do the election."

The minister of national integration and reconciliation said he wanted Tamils to have a greater role in parliament.

"If we sit on the opposition side we will never get any benefits for the minority community," he said.

Mr Muralitharan said he believed the Tamil Tiger rebel movement was finished because all of the senior figures had been killed.

"This war is over, I think. This 30-year-war is over here because the LTTE [Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam] is dependent on one person, that was [Velupillai] Prabhakaran.

"The LTTE [was] controlled by him. He never built a secondary role, never a secondary leader, he never built it. He concentrated all the leaders with him. Now all the leaders have died with him," he said. "That is very good for the government because there are no enemies to continue the guerrilla warfare or any warfare here," Mr Muralitharan said.

Separately, India's National Security Adviser MK Narayanan and Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon have arrived for talks on the Tamils' future.

The authorities believe they have wiped out the rebel leadership
They are meeting President Mahinda Rajapaksa and are expected to discuss possible devolution of powers to the Tamils in the north-east.

On Tuesday, the president declared the country "liberated" from Tamil Tiger rebels after the last pocket of territory held by them was taken.

The government released pictures of the body of the man believed to be the rebel leader.

Authorities said Mr Muralitharan had positively identified Prabhakaran's body.

The Tigers had been fighting for a separate state for Tamils in the north and east of Sri Lanka since the 1970s.

About 80,000 people have been killed in the conflict and thousands displaced.
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