Colombo: Sri Lanka`s army chief on Friday
called for a political settlement to the island`s decades-long
ethnic strife, a year after the Tamil Tiger rebels were
defeated in a major military offensive.
Lieutenant General Jagath Jayasuriya warned that although
the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) were
crushed following the offensive in May last year, rebel
remnants could try to regroup.
"It is up to the government and the people now to find
the root cause of the problem and give a proper solution,"
Jayasuriya told a meeting of businessmen in Colombo.
Jayasuriya took over as army chief in July, shortly after
security forces killed the top leadership of the Tigers and
ended their struggle for independence for the island`s
minority Tamil community.
"I believe, in the end, a proper solution is needed. The
LTTE have been eradicated militarily. But there are some
elements here and overseas still trying to propagating Tamil
(Tiger) cause," he said.
The United Nations estimated some 7,000 Tamil civilians
perished in the final months of fighting which brought an end
to Asia`s longest-running guerrilla war. The conflict had
claimed up to 1,00,000 lives since 1972.
Jayasuriya said state intelligence agencies had reported
that LTTE fighters who escaped the fighting were trying to
"There are remnants out there. They can get activated to
start a military process on another day. We are not ruling
that out. We are keeping our eyes and ears open on them, on
what they will do in the future."
Jayasuriya said the current army strength of just over
2,00,000 men and women will be maintained to ensure that the
Tigers do not stage a comeback.
He said most of the 10,000 rebels who surrendered last
year will be released after the government completes a
rehabilitation programme. However, some 1,000 who have been
identified as hardcore rebels will be prosecuted, he added.
Sri Lanka has maintained its 2010 defence budget at USD
1.8 billion dollars spent in 2009.