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Tamil Tigers Present Power-Sharing Proposal - 2003-10-31

In Sri Lanka, Tamil Tiger rebels have presented a power-sharing proposal aimed an ending two decades of ethnic conflict. The proposal holds hope for reviving stalled peace talks.

Tamil Tiger rebels submitted their 12-page document for an interim administration to the Norwegian ambassador in Sri Lanka, Hans Brattskar, in the rebel-held town of Killinochi on Friday.

It is the first time the guerrillas have submitted a detailed plan for their political aspirations. The Tamil Tigers have fought for 20 years for a separate homeland in the Tamil-dominated north and east, but last December they agreed to settle for autonomy.

However, the Tigers walked out of peace talks four months later, complaining of the slow pace of development in their strongholds in the north and east. They insisted on having their own administration before rejoining negotiations.

The details of the proposals should be unveiled Saturday. They have been made in response to government offers of more administrative and financial control.

The rebels are expected to seek wide powers over finances, land and security. Local media reports say they want to retain their combat units until a new constitution is enacted.

Political analysts say the future of the peace process hinges on exactly how much power the rebels want.

Political analysts say the proposals could generate controversy if they contain politically sensitive demands. Radical Sri Lankan groups oppose handing over any formal power to the rebels.

But there are also hopes the Tiger's document will help develop future dialogue.

Officials say the proposal will be sent to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who left for London Friday en route to Washington.

The ceasefire between the rebels and the government has been holding even though peace talks are deadlocked. The 1.5-year peace has helped the island's economy to recover, and brought promises of international funding for development.