Sri Lankan PM dismisses allegations of being soft on LTTE
Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Thursday dismissed allegations by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa that his alliance was sympathetic to the Tamil rebels.
Colombo: Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Thursday dismissed allegations by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa that his alliance was sympathetic to the Tamil rebels.
"I have no reason to favour pro-LTTE groups. I could have become the President in 2005 if I agreed to their conditions," said Wickremesinghe, who heads the United National Good Governance Front (UNGGF).
"When I did not agree then there is no reason why I should now."
He was addressing reporters a day ahead of the official closure of campaigning for Monday's parliamentary election.
Rajapaksa's UPFA has accused the UNGGF of being soft on Liberation Tamil Tigers of Eelam (LTTE) and its allied groups.
Wickremesinghe said he would not give in to the demand for a "federal structure" to end the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka.
"I will establish the grama rajya system (power to the village) for maximum devolution."
The main Tamil party Tamil National Alliance (TNA), in their manifesto, has outlined a federal solution to end the country's ethnic impasse.
The TNA, which was founded in 2001 as a proxy for rebels fighting for an independent Tamil homeland, had supported theWickremesinghe-backed opposition coalition in the presidential election in January.
The TNA support was crucial for President Maithripala Sirisena's victory over Rajapaksa.
However, the August 17 election for national parliament is being contested separately by the parties.
The TNA, which is fighting for 29 seats from Tamil regions in the 225-member assembly, has sought a mandate to press for a federal solution.
The majority Sinhala community, divided between Wickremesinghe's United National Party (UNP) and Sirisena's United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA), are opposed to any kind of regional autonomy.
In 2002 in Oslo, under the Norwegian peace initiative theLTTE and the government had agreed to find a solution based on the Tamil right for self-determination in a federal structure.
But the Norwegian-brokered talks collapsed in 2006.