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Sri Lankan Marxist Party Opposes Current Peace Deal with Rebels - 2004-02-15

A powerful Marxist party allied with Sri Lanka's president says it will reject a cease-fire agreement with the Tamil Tiger rebels if it prevails in early elections called for April.

Marxist People's Liberation Front leader Wimal Weerawansa was quoted by the newspaper Lanka as saying the 2002 truce agreement reached with the rebels was a threat to the country's national security.

The accord ended nearly two decades of fighting that killed more than 60,000 people. But many Sri Lankans believe the Norwegian-backed truce grants too many concessions to the rebels.

Mr. Weerawansa says his party would prefer holding talks with the Tamil Tigers under a different cease-fire deal that would ensure the island's security.

The Marxist party allied itself with President Chandrika Kumaratunga's Sri Lanka Freedom Party last month in a bid to oust the government led by the president's rival, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Mrs. Kumaratunga dissolved the country's parliament last week and called general elections on April 2 - three years ahead of schedule.

The president has been locked in a power struggle with prime minister Wickremesinghe, who has spearheaded peace efforts with the rebels.

Some information for this report provided by AP, Reuters and AFP.