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Tamil Rebels Insist on Proposal for Interim Government - 2003-06-11


In Sri Lanka, Tamil rebels have rejected the latest government proposal to break a deadlock in the peace process.

In a statement Tamil Tiger rebels have said they will not return to peace talks until the government makes a concrete proposal for an interim administration in the Tamil-dominated north and east.

Monday, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe offered to establish a provisional administrative body in rebel-controlled areas, but did not spell outs its structure. The proposal was made at an international conference in Tokyo, where donors pledged $4.5 billion in aid to rebuild war-ravaged Sri Lanka.

The rebels walked out of the process six weeks ago. They have since demanded a regional interim administration that would give them political authority, and greater control of reconstruction funds in the northeast. They have already rejected two earlier offers by the government for a compromise on the issue.

The rebels say the government's latest proposal to meet their demand also falls short of their expectations. They are asking for a clearly defined draft framework for the proposed interim authority.

The rebels also accuse the government of using the international community to try to twist its arm into submission, and have objected to the greater involvement of foreign countries in the island's peace process.

At the Tokyo conference, donors linked the aid they had been pledged to progress in the stalled peace process, and urged the Tamil rebels to return to the negotiating table immediately. The rebels had boycotted the conference.

The Norwegian-mediated peace process began last year. In six rounds of talks, the Tigers gave up on demands for a separate homeland for the island's Tamil community and agreed to accept regional autonomy.

Political analysts fear confidence in the peace process is being eroded due to the hard-line response of the rebels to government efforts in breaking the deadlock.

The Tamil rebels say they remain committed to a peaceful settlement to the conflict that, until last year, claimed more than 60,000 lives.

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