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Lanka peace hope

Jaffna, Nov. 2 (Reuters): Tired of a 20-year ethnic war that killed 64,000 people, Sri Lankans today welcomed a watershed power-sharing proposal by Tamil Tiger rebels that could revive stalled peace talks.

The proposal for a self-governing authority in the north and east was the first time the rebels put in writing an extensive roadmap to end the island’s conflict, though some among the majority Sinhalese community rejected it. “It is a landmark proposal that Tamils everywhere have waited for,” said S. Mohanadas, the vice chancellor of the University of Jaffna in the north of the island.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) said yesterday an Interim Self-Governing Authority should have wide powers to tax, police, rebuild and use land in the war-battered north and east.

The government said the proposal could be taken up at peace talks despite the wide disparity between the rebel proposal and the wish for the central government to retain some control over policing, finances and land use. “They (the government) will need a strong stomach for tough bargaining in the months ahead,” the editorial of the Sunday Times newspaper said.

Some saw the authority, with a majority of LTTE appointees, as a stepping stone for the rebels to create a separate state.

“We reject it. It should not be taken up for discussions,” said Tilvin Silva, the general secretary of the Marxist People’s Liberation Front, said in Colombo.

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