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S.Lanka govt ‘helped’ India’s ruling party in poll

[AFP, Thursday, 14 January 2010 11:51 No Comment]

Sri Lanka stopped using heavy weapons against Tamil Tiger rebels to help the re-election bid of neighbouring India’s ruling party, a top official in Colombo said Thursday.

Lalith Weeratunga, senior aide to President Mahinda Rajapakse, said New Delhi requested the complete halt in the offensive against the Tamil Tigers because it affected the Tamil vote in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

Weeratunga said Rajapakse did not want to stop the offensive against Tamil separatists, but was ready for a compromise to help Congress retain power.

"OK, what do you want me to do to ensure victory of the Congress Party?," the president had asked, Weeratunga said in a video interview with Colombo’s Daily Mirror website.

"They requested that the use of heavy weaponry be stopped… With the halt in use of heavy weaponry, the Congress gained strength and the victory in Tamil Nadu can be attributed to this decision by the government of Sri Lanka."

The Congress party easily won the elections, which concluded in May at about the same time Sri Lankan troops finally secured victory over the Tigers.

Weeratunga said the Congress government had to be seen to do something to stop "what the rest of the world wrongly saw as the massacre of Tamils in Sri Lanka."

The United Nations reported that at least 7,000 civilians were killed in the first four months of last year alone as Sri Lankan troops moved to finish off the Tigers, who had fought for an independent Tamil homeland since 1972.

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