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Tigers reject govt offer

Colombo, June 11 (Reuters): Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tiger rebels rejected a government proposal for a provisional administrative body in the Tamil-dominated north and east of the island today, saying they were looking for a more concrete offer.

A rebel statement said they would not return to talks until the government put forward a “clearly defined draft framework” for the structure proposed by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe at a donor conference in Tokyo this week.

The statement was the latest in a series of hardline responses to government proposals that have cast a cloud on the island’s best chance to end 20 years of war in which 64,000 people have died. Four previous peace bids all ended in renewed fighting.

“We are disappointed to note that the Prime Minister’s statement does not offer anything new,” the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam statement said.

Wickremesinghe told the donor’s conference, at which more than $4.5 billion in aid was pledged, that he was willing to form a “provisional administrative structure” in which the Tigers would have a “significant role”. The LTTE boycotted the meeting, raising doubts whether stalled peace talks could be resumed soon — a key condition attached to much of the aid.

“The Prime Minister has not responded to our call for a draft framework for an innovative and effective politico-administrative structure,” the statement said. There was no immediate reaction from Wickremesinghe, who is travelling back from Japan.

The Tigers said their views of what an interim administration should be were far different from Wickremesinghe, who has said there are constitutional problems in setting up such a body.

“The Prime Minister is taking cover behind the laws and constitution of Sri Lanka, which have effectively institutionalised racism against which the Tamil people have been struggling for decades,” the rebels said. The Tigers also came down hard on the international community — more than 50 countries and 20 international organisations attended the Tokyo meeting — for backing the government.

“The Colombo regime has shifted the peace process from third-party facilitation to the realm of international arbitration by formidable external forces that has far-reaching consequences for the political and economic destiny of the island.”

The Tigers added they would have nothing to do with a declaration issued at the end of the conference linking aid with the peace process and improvements on human rights. “The government, with the active assistance of the facilitator and its international ‘tactical allies’ has formulated this strategic paper to superimpose its own agenda on the LTTE. This is unacceptable to us,” the rebels said.

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