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Sri Lankan leader appeals for Tamils’ trust

[AFP, Tuesday, 8 June 2010 08:39 No Comment]

Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapakse urged Tamil leaders on Monday to trust him and help resolve outstanding problems following the country’s civil war, warning he would not bow to terrorism.

Rajapakse told the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) party, formerly a front for the defeated Tamil Tiger rebels, that he was working to achieve a political resolution, his office said.

"Trust me, and together we can find a solution to the problems faced by all our people," the president said.

"But I will not bow down to terrorism, and what the terrorists wanted I will never give," he added, referring to the demand for an independent homeland.

The Tamil Tiger rebels were crushed by security forces in May last year after 37 years of fighting. The United Nations has said up to 100,000 people were killed in the conflict.

Since the defeat of the Tigers, the TNA has taken a moderate line and has had several meetings with Rajapakse, including a high-profile discussion last September on the subject of peace and reconciliation.

However, the TNA contested April parliamentary elections on a platform of launching a civil disobedience campaign to press long-standing demands for regional autonomy for their ethnic minority.

"If the Sri Lankan state continues its present style of governance without due regard to the rights of the Tamil-speaking peoples, the TNA will launch a peaceful, non-violent campaign of civil disobedience on the Gandhian model," the party said, referring to India’s famed independence leader Mahatma Gandhi.

Monday’s meeting came as Rajapakse prepares to make an official visit to neighbouring India, which is raising pressure on Colombo to devolve political power to Tamils and ensure lasting peace.

[Full Coverage]

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