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Rajapakse signs accord with JVP

V.S. Sambandan

JVP's conditional support for his candidature for Presidency Key conditions include a solution to the island's separatist conflict which will preserve the unitary state, abolition of the executive presidency, reworking the 2002 ceasefire agreement and the need to reconsider the role of the facilitators, Norway



DEAL STRUCK: Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse and JVP Tilvin Silva exchange papers after signing an agreement. — Photo: Sriyantha Walpola

COLOMBO: Allaying fears of a return to war, the Sri Lankan Prime Minister, Mahinda Rajapakse, on Thursday signed a 13-point agreement with the former ruling ally, Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) accepting the latter's conditional support for his candidature in the upcoming Presidential election.

The document was signed at the heavily-guarded Prime Minister's official residence, Temple Trees, amid chanting of prayers by clergymen from the island's main religions — Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Christianity.

At 11.57 a.m., Mr. Rajapakse and JVP General Secretary Tilvin Silva signed copies of the 13-point agreement, which was largely the same as the 12-point agreement released by the JVP earlier this week. The additional clause in Thursday's charter says that the JVP will work for Mr. Rajapakse's victory as he had agreed to the conditions.

There were no substantial differences in the Tamil versions of the document released by the JVP on Monday and the charter signed on Thursday. The key conditions set by the JVP and accepted by Mr. Rajapakse include a solution to the island's separatist conflict which would preserve the unitary state, abolition of the executive presidency, reworking the 2002 ceasefire agreement and the need to reconsider the role of the facilitators, Norway.

In his address after signing the document, Mr. Rajapakse said: "I am disappointed when some say that there will be a resumption of war" as a result of the agreement. Recalling that similar opposition was expressed in the past, the Prime Minister said the agreement was to "ensure peace, prosperity and development for the Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims, Burghers [the Sri Lankan equivalent of Anglo-Indians] and all others in our country."

The JVP leader, Somawanse Amarasinghe, said the agreement was reached to defeat the "common enemy" and overcome the "threats to national interest." It was also "time for all forces to come together to defeat terrorism," he said.

Referring to media reports in Sri Lanka about a possible return to war as a result of the alliance, Mr. Amarasinghe said: "Some people say we want war. We don't like war, but we are not afraid of war. You cannot bring peace by being afraid."

The Foreign Affairs Minister, Anura Bandaranaike, the leader of the Eelam People's Democratic Party, Douglas Devananda, the leader of the National Unity Alliance, Ferial Ashraff, and other senior political leaders from the ruling United People's Freedom Alliance attended the ceremony.

On Wednesday, a faction of the Eelam People's Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF-Pathmanabha) agreed to back Mr. Rajapakse's candidature. With this backing, the Premier has the support of two Tamil political parties — the EPDP and the EPRLF-Pathmanabha. Both parties are strongly opposed to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

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