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Chandrika refused to sign agreement

Colombo |By Sinha Ratnatunga | 24-02-2002 Print friendly format | Email to Friend

The Sri Lankan government released a statement of intent delivered by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday to ward off criticism on two major issues in the ceasefire accord they signed with rebel Tamil Tigers (LTTE) even as the prime minister rejected a claim by President Chandrika Kumaratunga that she was not consulted on the agreement.

Wickremesinghe, Gulf News learns, had asked Kumaratunga to sign the accord with him on behalf of the Sri Lanka government, which rebel leader Velupillai Prabhakaran had signed a day earlier on behalf of the LTTE, but the president had refused point blank.

She had said that the prime minister should not have got himself into a position where he was being rushed into signing an accord with the rebels, and asked for time to study its ramifications.

As the two leaders spoke last on Thursday evening at the President's house in Colombo's Fort zone, Norwegian ambassador in Colombo Jon Westborg had taken a special air force helicopter to Kilinochchi in the north central province and returned with the truce accord signed by Prabhakaran.

Kumaratunga's response poses serious legal and constitutional ramifications. As constitutional head, it is she, as president, who is empowered to declare peace or war.

Kumaratunga has already summoned a meeting of opposition parties including the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) and the Eelam People's Democratic Party (EPDP) to discuss a common response.

Meanwhile, the two issues that were amended by Wickremesinghe were the right of the government's armed forces to intercept the illegal movement of arms into Sri Lanka, and assurances to the Sinhalese and Muslims in the eastern province that their rights will be protected by the Colombo government.

 


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