Truce will end Jan 16, Sri Lanka tells Norway

By P.K. Balachandran, IANS

Colombo : Sri Lanka Thursday formally told peace facilitator Norway and the Nordic truce monitors that it would withdraw from the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) from Jan 16.

Support TwoCircles

The mandatory 14 days’ notice was given through a formal letter, which was handed over to the Norwegian Ambassador Tore Hattrem by Sri Lankan Minister of Foreign Affairs Rohitha Bogollagama, an official statement said.

The Sri Lankan government also formally suspended the Status of Mission Agreement (SOMA), which governed the truce monitors’ stay and work in the country.

Bogollagama met the Indian High Commissioner, Alok Prasad, separately to brief him on the government’s decision.

The Sri Lankan cabinet took the decision to abrogate and annul the CFA Wednesday, on the grounds that it had only fed aggression by the LTTE, and not brought about peace as envisaged originally when it was signed in February 2002.

Incidentally, the CFA will formally end one day after the joyous Tamil harvest festival of Pongal.

There is still no reaction from the LTTE. None of its spokesman would come on the phone line.

But the pro-LTTE Tamilnet web site pointed out that Tamil Tiger leader Velupillai Prabhakaran had said in his last Heroes’ Day speech on Nov 27 that the government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa had “shut the door for peace” and that it was “overconfident of its military victory over the Tamil freedom movement”.

“The Sinhala nation has always misunderstood our freedom struggle. It consistently underestimates us,” Prabhakaran had said.

Reacting to the Sri Lanka government’s withdrawal from the CFA, Norwegian peace broker Erik Solheim said in Oslo, that it was a “serious step”.

“This comes on top of the increasingly frequent and brutal acts of violence perpetrated by both parties, and I am deeply concerned that the violence and hostilities will now escalate even further,” a Norwegian embassy release quoted him as saying.