That move he knows will stymie efforts to build a consensus through the All Party Conference (APC) on the ethnic issue but the President's first priority now is the stability of his government, particularly in the face of the JVP's refusal to come on board and has thus decided to make a bid for
The President in fact decided on this course of action after coming to terms with the reality a general election at this stage would be suicidal for his government, whilst on the other weakening the opposition will slow down the anti-government momentum building up in the country.
At the same time the President realises he has to keep the JVP on board as well if the stability of the government is to be maintained on the floor of the House, and this he has moved to do by projecting a solution based on a Sri Lankan model for the ethnic problems whilst also cracking the whip on the NGO
And the whip cracking he has sought to do by getting an advisory panel appointed to the parliamentary select committee on NGOs and the names speak for themselves. The advisory panel comprises S.L. Gunesekera, Gomin Dayasri, R.S. Wanasundara, Susantha Gunatilleka, Sitha Rajapakse and Chandra Wijesekera.
That he is only interested in catering to the Sinhala-Buddhist constituency, Rajapakse has made no secret of and went so far as to explain his thinking on the matter to SLMC's M.L.M. Hizbullah recently during a one-to-one meeting.
On that occasion, the President told Hizbullah, 90 percent of his vote bank came from the Sinhala-Buddhist constituency and politically therefore he has to work to their agenda. It is for this same reason he believes the PA can never win an election without the JVP, hence the need to keep them too going.
But the one problem President Rajapakse had to deal with in pushing this agenda of course is the international community, whose support was needed not only to pressure the LTTE but also for the much needed funds to keep the economy afloat.
And the international community has in no uncertain terms called for dramatic political changes to address the legitimate grievances of the minorities in addition to addressing issues of human rights violations, both of which the President knew he had to deliver on sooner than later. But he could not
satisfy the international community as well as keep the JVP on board and hence looked for an alternate strategy.
Furthermore, India too entered the fray with the visit of External Affairs Secretary Shyam Saran the previous week, and it is to overcome this overall pressure, Rajapakse decided on a political offensive whilst playing for time on the more important issues confronting his administration.
And his priority was to ease the international pressure on him from the Co-Chairs in general and India in particular to work with the UNP on a federal solution and it is towards achieving that objective he planned the swearing-in of UNP's Susantha
Punchinilame the very day he was to meet with Ranil Wickremesinghe at the request of India.
Rajapakse knew, given the UNP's earlier threat, the party will be forced to withdraw support following this slight and withdraw it did, thereby buying him time on India's call to work with the UNP towards arriving at a solution based on the Indian model of federalism. (See Pot Shots on pages 8 and 9)
With that problem temporarily overcome, the President next focussed on keeping the rest of the international community at bay and decided to shift the focus from a political solution to human rights and called on Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe to deliver the goods. At the same time the APC
initiative was projected as a means of addressing the political issues.
The approach of the government was to show the international community urgent steps were taken not only to investigate human rights abuses of civilians in the north east but action taken to prosecute the offenders as well and Samarasinghe was asked to do the honours.
Accordingly, the suave Minister convened a meeting of the diplomatic community on Wednesday, July 12, where representatives of the three services, police and the Attorney General's Department were also in attendance.
Initially the three services and police made presentations on what steps were taken to educate service personnel on human rights.
Briefing the diplomats
And thereafter the diplomats were given a briefing on specific cases under investigation with assurances, the offenders will be brought to justice shortly.
In this respect, CID DIG Asoka Wijetilleke said there was a breakthrough in the murder of TNA MP Joseph Pararajasingham and assured the diplomats that the perpetrators of the crime would be arrested within three to four days.
The alleged assassins are two men from the army, who when stopped at a checkpoint in Batticaloa soon after the murder had reportedly said they were deserters but allowed to go.
It is these two army men the CID now plan to arrest in connection with the murder of the TNA MP, though the diplomats were not given specifics of the case by DIG Wijetilleke except to say results will be shown within three to four days.
Likewise, with regard to the attack on the Pesalai Church, Gen. Kulatunga representing the military told the diplomats a tri-services inquiry was underway and that the evidence points to navy involvement in the incident going by testimony of the people.
A separate CID investigation is also underway, the diplomats were told.
And with regard to the murder of the Trincomalee students, the diplomats were told the CID was working on the basis of the Jaffna University Teachers Human Rights Report where details of the massacre were given and hoped to make progress soon.
Interestingly, even on this issue, Attorney General K.C. Kamalasabayson himself had earlier drawn the attention of both IGP Chandra Fernando and DIG Wijetilleke to the lack of progress made and queried why investigations were not carried out on the basis of details which had transpired in the media.
On Friday in fact the Attorney General's Department was on the verge of delivering a strongly-worded letter to IGP Chandra Fernando on this very issue when the Department was informed a CID team was sent to Trincomalee that very morning.
Results called for
Be that as it may, at the end of the presentation, Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in Colombo, James Entwistle commended Minister Samarasinghe for the progress made and the transparency shown but reiterated the need for results.
He said the US understands the limitations faced in carrying out investigations whilst battling terrorism but that it was important to show results to build public confidence.
Similar sentiments were also expressed by other diplomats including, Indian High Commissioner, Nirupama Rao, Australian High Commissioner Greg French and British High Commissioner Dominick Chilcott.
And for the government it was progress made with the focus shifted to human rights, giving the President some breathing space on the political front, though of course the briefing only helped establish the LTTE's claims that the military was involved in the killings of civilians in the north east.
Just 24 hours earlier, the President set the pace for the all party representative committee meeting, once again having invited the diplomatic community and giving a broad overview of what is planned through the APC.
Without going into specifics, the President spoke about the rights of the people to manage their own affairs with references to an Indian model and the importance of developing Sri Lanka's own model was also thrown in.
That reference to a Sri Lankan model of course was to keep the JVP on board, the importance of which Presidential Advisor Basil Rajapakse adverted to when he met SLMC Leader Rauf Hakeem the previous week.
The President's insistence on a Sri Lankan model is also aimed at avoiding adopting a federal model and that is clearly evident when Justice Parinda Ranasinghe's judgement is looked at on the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.
It is Justice Ranasinghe's judgement that is considered a benchmark for the Sri Lankan model which eventually swung the 4-4 deadlock in the nine member Supreme Court Bench in 1987 in favour of the constitutionality of the 13th Amendment and which order President Rajapakse closely studied with confidants
before delving into the subject.
In this context, the historic legal background becomes relevant in looking at the approach the President's experts will adopt in formulating its proposals for devolution.
From the second decade of the 20th Century, the leaders of the Ceylon National Congress, mainly Sinhalese, equated the freedom struggle with a demand for a parliament in which the first step was a parliament elected by limited franchise having legislative power for all internal affairs.
The second step was to remove the power of the British parliament's right to legislate for Sri Lanka and entrust it to the Sri Lankan parliament elected on universal franchise. A fully sovereign parliament elected by universal franchise.
The Tamil leaders accepted this same approach with one exception. They wanted communal electorates with weighted representation for the minorities.
However, S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike and the Kandyan leaders wanted a federal model based on Canada and Australia where the legislative power was divided between the central and three regional parliaments. But the Donoughmore Commission on Constitutional Reforms rejected the proposal for communal electorates and
for federalism. Nevertheless they also granted universal franchise immediately.
In 1943, the board of ministers headed by D.S. Senanayake prepared a draft constitution for the country based on a sovereign parliament elected by universal franchise. The 1945 Soulbury Constitution for Constitutional Reforms accepted the ministers' proposal with additional amendments to safeguard the
rights of the minorities. Once the new parliament was elected under this constitution, the British parliament passed the Ceylon Independence Act and removed the power of the British parliament to legislate for Sri Lanka.
And the 1972 republic was established by the members of parliament who having obtained a mandate met as a constituent assembly and vested legislative power in the national state assembly, reaffirming the principle espoused by the leaders of the Ceylon National Congress.
The 1978 constitution likewise is also based on this Sri Lankan model. The 1978 constitution also added the requirement of a referendum.
Justice Ranasinghe's judgment read together with the judgement of Sharvananda CJ was in fact based on the Sri Lankan model. It clearly defines the limits of devolution within a Sri Lankan model.
Under this model while legislative power is vested in parliament, ordinary lawmaking power may be devolved to provincial/regional assemblies. But the power to amend the constitution is exercised exclusively by parliament and the people. This cannot be shared.
Thus, unlike the federal system, in the Sri Lankan model the parliament has the sole right to amend the constitution. In this manner, the Sri Lankan model is similar to the unwritten constitution of the United Kingdom.
This judgement has now become the benchmark for the Sri Lankan model. It is in this context the draft constitution of 2000 was viewed as violating the Sri Lankan model enshrined in Justice Ranasinghe's judgement.
The legislative power under the 2000 draft was to be shared between parliament and the regional assemblies. This also extended to the power to amend the constitution. Sharing of legislative power in this way made Sri Lanka a union similar to the Indian federal model which is a union of state. This was not
what was sought by the leaders who fought for independence.
It is this thinking that is guiding Rajapakse which is in complete contrast to what the international community and India have called for in stating there must be radical changes to the country's political structure.
Thus, on the one hand whilst keeping the JVP happy by sticking to a Sri Lankan model which will avoid any federal format, the President has on the other moved to ease the international pressure on him through a human rights initiative using Mahinda Samarasinghe as the point man and at the same time moved
to weaken the UNP through defections.
Interestingly, the LTTE has understood the President's strategy to be just that as articulated in the London based Tamil Guardian editorial of July 13, widely believed to be written by LTTE Chief Negotiator Anton Balasingham.
"President Rajapakse is simply going through the motions to appease the international community, particularly India. But his main objective, like his predecessor, is to consolidate his presidency and prepare to secure another six years when the present term ends. Therefore his immediate priority is
not to come up with a serious proposal to offer the Tamils, but, as the splintering UNP is vehemently protesting, to destroy his ruling party's main rival and consolidate his grip in parliament, which is why we are certain nothing will come of the elaborate exercise which President Rajapakse began this week," the editorial said.
Taken together with similar sentiments expressed by LTTE Political Wing leader S.P. Tamilselvan in the Wanni, the APC initiative is an exercise in futility but it does serve a political purpose for Rajapakse in the immediate future to consolidate his power.
It is in furtherance of this objective the President moved to reshuffle his cabinet last week with a view to accommodating defectors only to run into a storm of protest from the likes of Mangala Samaraweera and Jeyaraj Fernandopulle. (See Pot Shots on pages 8 and 9)
And to show his displeasure Fernandopulle skipped last week's cabinet meeting but came for the party leaders meeting which followed.
But the President plans to go ahead with the reshuffle with or without the support of his ministers and continued to lobby UNP, CWC and SLMC MPs over the week with offers of portfolios.
By Friday, the President believed he can get the CWC and at least four UNP MPs on board and hinted the reshuffle will take place this week.
It was Minister Fernandopulle however who was to tell the President in Kandy last weekend that no amount of reshuffles will help solve the problems confronting the country unless he had a proper agenda.
This chaotic style of governance was evident last week in fact when the media was invited for the swearing-in of would-be UNP crossers-over, only to be told after a three hour wait at Temple Trees that it was not to be.
It will be next Tuesday, Rajapakse's press officer told the media and when Tuesday came and inquiries were made, the embarrassed response was that the reshuffle will take place the following week and with it the crossovers would take place.
Chandrika's imminent return
In the midst of these developments of course is the imminent return of former President Chandrika Kumaratunga to the country. She has in fact been in regular touch with a sizeable number of MPs who are disgruntled due to what they call the "Basilkaranaya" of the government.
These MPs have urged Kumaratunga to provide them some sort of leadership at least from behind the scenes but security concerns had prevented the former President from returning to Sri Lanka, especially in the backdrop of her security being slashed after relinquishing office.
It is this development which led to her leaving the country and staying put overseas, which time period the President used to oust Kumaratunga from the SLFP leadership.
Now, however, she is preparing to return to Sri Lanka notwithstanding the threat to her life and cast the burden on President Rajapakse to provide her adequate security in light of the latest intelligence reports which clearly state she is a LTTE target.
In fact, Kumaratunga had a strong exchange of letters with the President on the issue of her security and even informed the party's central committee of the treatment meted out to her by Rajapakse, to no avail.
Threat to Kumaratunga
But now comes a confidential seven page report by the Sri Lanka Police Special Branch and the State Intelligence Service (SIS) under the Defence Ministry detailing the security threat faced by Kumaratunga.
In the 'Threat Assessment' Intelligence report forwarded to IGP Chandra Fernando by SIS Director Keerthi Gajanayake, it is stated, "The most fierce threat both physically and by causing mental embarrassment to the former President is from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam."
At the 'conclusion' of the detailed report by Gajanayake, it is stated thus: "Intelligence revealed that from 1995 to 1998, the LTTE had reconnoitered the movements of HE the President on 18 occasions (the detected cases).
"It should not be forgotten that the LTTE is still observing the activities of former President and the LTTE identifies the former President as a great enemy of the Tamil people.
"In the circumstances, it is recommended that the former President be afforded with maximum security," the report states.
Following this report, the Director, Sri Lanka Police Special Branch, Bernard de Silva forwarded another letter to IGP Fernando calling for the protection of Kumaratunga and now the ball is in Rajapakse's court to deliver on this security when she returns to the country.
Failure to do so would result in any attack on Kumaratunga falling fairly and squarely at Rajapakse's door, moreso when he has on humanitarian grounds provided hospital facilities to a leading member of the LTTE.
Following is the full text of that letter signed by Bernard de Silva:
Inspector General of Police.
Threat Assessment on former President Madam Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga
This has reference to your letter number Staff DIG/IG/04/4652/06 dated March 30, 2006
The special branch conducted confidential inquiries to ascertain whether there is any specific or imminent threat on former HE the President.
Information pertaining to any specific threat was not received. However , the LTTE threat on her remains undiminished. The LTTE strategy in the past had been to demoralise the people in the south through political assassinations and to bring pressure on the government.
Targeting political leaders had been one of the strategies of the LTTE. Further, when targets are earmarked, the LTTE goes all out to achieve its objective. This is the past experience. Though the LTTE related violence has decreased, the LTTE attitude has not changed.
There is no guarantee that the LTTE would abide by the norms and respect the CFA and the MoU. The assassination of late Hon. Lakshman Kadirgamar is a clear example. There had been many instances where the former HE the President has come under the wrath of the LTTE. Hence it would be prudent to take
precautions to protect the former HE the President.
Bernard de Silva
Police Special Branch
In this overall context, President Rajapakse's move to consolidate his power by attracting UNP defectors may well see a repeat of 2001 when a group of PA members defected to the UNP and toppled the administration.
And given the political animal she is, who knows what's up Kumaratunga's sleeve?
Ghost war amidst goodwill gestures
Daya Master being brought to Apollo Hospital in Colombo
|By Amantha Perera
Security has been on a high for the last two months, even before that in areas like Jaffna, Trincomalee and Batticaloa where claymore mines targeting government forces entered civilian life last December.
Given the number and the frequency of such attacks, foot patrols have been increased in most of these areas. One of the main tasks entrusted to these patrols is to detect mines hidden on trees, culverts and other locations.
The mines that took the lives of 65 civilians in Kebithigollewa a month ago were planted after the morning clearing patrols had passed the area.
One such patrol was doing the rounds at Varani, south of Koddikamam, on July 11 morning. There were around five soldiers in the group. Given the scorching heat, soldiers are in the habit of using the shady areas on the side of the road. This group used the shade under a tree to rest. Then the claymore went
off. It killed one soldier and injured two others.
The mine had been planted the night before, probably by someone who was aware of the habits of the soldiers. Soon after the claymore attack, a search operation was carried out but no one was arrested and nothing suspicious was found.
After a silence of several days, attacks recommenced last week. A day after the claymore attack in Varani, another claymore went off in Nallur. A jeep carrying police officers was caught in the blast on Wymman Road. Two policemen died in the blast and seven were injured, including five civilians. After
that incident also a search operation was carried out.
Later that afternoon, a senior PLOTE cadre in Jaffna, Walter Ilidiyaraja was shot and killed in Jaffna. The day after another PLOTE leader, Ratnam Sriskandarajah alias Bavan was shot and killed at Chettikulam in Vauvuniya. He has been heading the PLOTE office in the area for several years.
On July 12, a soldier was killed due to firing at the Mahumalai forward defence lines as well. And the incidents continued into the next day with the same low intensity.
On July 12 night, the army said that soldiers near Monkey Bridge in Trincomalee had come under fire around 9:30 p.m. Military Spokesperson Brig. Prasad Samarasinghe said the soldiers retaliated when fired on. However it was only the next morning that they had been able to carry out a search operation in
the area and two bodies of the attackers were recovered along with two T56 weapons and 40mm grenade launcher.
The LTTE later said that cadres had been on security duty at Kadavanu that lies at the border of areas under their control when they were attacked by the army. The Tigers said that four of their cadres had died in the attack. The LTTE said the army had infiltrated into LTTE areas and carried out the
On July 13, two more soldiers were killed when the Tigers attacked a patrol at Kalmadu in Vavuniya, and a soldier was injured. Another was killed when firing erupted near the line of control at Omanthai.
There was also mortar fire in the Nagarkovil area and residents said they heard gunfire in the Kankesanthurai area as well on July 13 night.
On July 14, fighting erupted in Trincomalee and in the east. A sailor died due to sniper fire and one more was injured on the Muttur jetty. Thereafter mortar fire had been directed at LTTE camps in Kattaparichchan, Sampoor and Kadalkarachenai. The Tigers once again said that the attacks were unprovoked.
The Tigers and the security forces had clashed in Vakaneri, north of the Habarana-Valachchennai main highway. Sketchy reports said that two Tigers and four attackers had died in the attack. The LTTE said their positions had come under attack from army camps in the area.
Clash in Vankerni
"Whoever the attackers are, they have captured an LTTE camp. We have no idea about the casualties, but some Tiger equipment too has been captured," T. Thuyavan, the spokesperson for the Karuna group said from Batticaloa.
The LTTE later said that it had killed 10 army soldiers. The figure was upped to 22 by military sources in the east. The LTTE said it would not stop attacking until and unless the army stopped. They said the army had infiltrated five kilometres inside LTTE areas before the group was surrounded by about 200
LTTE cadres and attacked.
The attack appeared to be one of the most serious since the ceasefire. Brig. Samarasinghe said troops on a routine patrol on a tractor had been attacked. Reinforcements had been rushed into the area.
Tension prevailed in Vakaneri and Kiran with residents saying that troops were moving towards the area of the confrontation. The battle was continuing late into the afternoon. Seven hours later the Tigers had handed over 12 bodies through the ICRC.
With security fears on a high, once again there was a bomb scare in Colombo. This time it was the Immigration and Emigration Office at Punchi Borella.
The building was evacuated on July 12 morning following a bomb scare. Staff and more than 1,000 others who had come to the office were ordered out of the building, the area cordoned off and bomb squads carried out a thorough search of the building. Nothing was discovered and later it was business as usual.
The scare at the passport office follows those that made schools shut down, another at the headquarters of the National Savings Bank and a bomb scare in front of the National Hospital as well.
While the bomb squad was checking the building, civilians thronged around the hastily put barricades trying to get a better view. Fear is no dampener for the curious Sri Lankan citizen, it seemed.
Given the security situation in Colombo, the army has decided to establish a special unit made up of volunteers to look after the capital. Brig Samarasinghe said the unit would consist of 1,000 members and thus far they have already recruited 251.
On July 13, a powerful bomb was also recovered close to the Kandy residence of Minister Keheliya Rambukwella. The Minister categorised the incident as "clearly a terrorist incident."
In the midst of the incidents, on July 12 evening reports reached Colombo that Tiger Spokesman, Velayadam Dayanidi, popularly known as Daya Master, had taken ill and that the LTTE had requested medical treatment in Colombo.
Minister Rambukwella said that on humanitarian grounds President Mahinda Rajapakse had ordered that Master be allowed treatment in Colombo following the request made by family members. However, a request for air transport had been turned down.
Treating Daya Master
The President received the request to move Master to Colombo on July 12 late afternoon, he agreed to the request after discussions with his advisors
Master and his family and two LTTE cadres in civvies crossed over from Tiger held areas at Omanthai around 6.15 on July 12 . By that time the crossover point had been closed but instructions had been conveyed to the commanding officer to open the entry/exit point and let the vehicle
with Master pass. They were provided a security escort by the government from then on.
The ICRC and the SLMM too had been involved in providing passage to Master who is usually the point-man in Kilinochchi to all journalists. Amiable and with his unfazed manner that drives some media types nuts, Master nevertheless is liked by almost all who have dealt with him.
It was the SLMM that had informed the President of Master's condition after ICRC officials conveyed his state to the monitors. The SLMM message had been conveyed to the President via the Government Peace Secretariat, according to the Defence
Master had suffered high blood pressure and had been recommended urgent medical treatment. Some sources in the north said that he might have to undergo immediate by-pass surgery. Nevertheless, in Colombo he underwent thorough medical checks the morning after his arrival. The tests suggested that an
operation was not an immediate necessity. Hospital sources said that he was in a stable condition and might be discharged within days.
Master had arrived at the hospital in a Montero jeep, which was accompanied by two army vehicles and an SLMM vehicle.
However, the National Movement Against Terrorism had filed a police entry that Master be arrested and held a protest outside the hospital as well. Even when news of Master's arrival was reported, there were messages placed on internet sites
decrying Rajapakse's generosity and talking of LTTE duplicity.
It was only the day before Master was brought to Colombo that a new hospital complex had been opened in Kilinochchi.
"Double standards and bias of the Tiger media exposes their unwillingness to accept the Sri Lanka government's deep commitment to the continuation of the peace process. It is indeed a bitter pill for them to swallow," a posting at the Defence Ministry website said, blaming the pro-LTTE media for
underplaying the government's goodwill gesture.
There however were positive developments. The LTTE on Friday indicated that it would release Police Officer Weerasinghe Bopitiya who had been held by them since September 9, 2005 after he and two other officers went into LTTE areas to arrest a fleeing foreign paedophile.
His two colleagues had been released earlier, one in January and the other in February. The police officers fell into Tiger hands in the Murugan area on the Mannar-Medawachchiya road. The family of the officer had written to LTTE Leader Velupillai Pirapaharan recently seeking the release. The letter and
Master's incident had influenced the reciprocal goodwill gesture.
Where have all the Norwegians gone?
By Amantha Perera and Jamila Najmuddin
The ceasefire would be 1,604 days old today, and one party that has been instrumental in its longevity has been conspicuous by its absence since of late - the Norwegians.
The much maligned truce facilitators have taken a backseat since the failed talks in Oslo last month.
After delegates from the government and the LTTE failed to meet on June 29, the Norwegians said it was now up to the two sides to pursue efforts to return to the negotiating table, something they have said before as well.
On the sidelines
This time however they seem to have taken the remark to heart and have kept themselves on the sidelines. "As far as we know there are no talks going on between the LTTE and Norwegians to settle the present situation," SLMM spokesperson Thorfinnur Omarsson said. "The fate of the SLMM will be
known by July end."
Erik Numberg at the Norwegian mission in Colombo said the Norwegians had not scaled down their role but were waiting until the SLMM constituent countries agree upon its future role. "We are still continuing with our role as the monitors, but until the decision is made on the SLMM, I cannot divulge any
more details," he said.
The five countries that make up the SLMM met in Oslo last month to discuss reactions by the government and the LTTE to a letter sent by Norwegian Minister Erik Solheim as well as the Tiger demand that monitors from EU nations be removed from
The talks ended inconclusively but both the SLMM and Norwegians said that the five countries were currently in consultations.
Sweden in touch
With the Norwegians out of the main communication line, at least for the time being, one other country is trying to persuade the Tigers to climb down from their demand. Sources with detailed knowledge of the dealings of the SLMM told The Sunday
Leader that Sweden has been in touch with the Tigers on the issue.
The Swedish Embassy in Colombo declined to comment on whether the country was playing any such role. Sources said that it was Sweden, an EU nation, that had been the country most reluctant to move out of the SLMM as demanded by the Tigers at the meeting in Oslo.
The Tigers first wanted the monitors from the EU nations out by August. They claimed the EU ban on them had seriously disturbed the neutrality of these nations.
The Norwegians first requested that a six month interval be made available for the structural changes to be made to the SLMM. If fact, 37 of the 57 monitors currently serving would have to pack up and leave if the Tigers stand firm on the demand.
Soon after the June Oslo non-event the Tigers said that they would give the monitors until end August.
From the beginning the Norwegians and other nations have said that SLMM monitors do not represent their nations and carried the mandate given to the SLMM by both the government and the LTTE through the 2002 truce. If new members are to be included
in the SLMM the truce itself would have to be amended with the consent of both the government and the LTTE.
When President Mahinda Rajapakse assumed office he indicated that he would prefer to amend sections of the truce, the Tiger reaction was in the negative.
Other non-EU member nations of the SLMM too have voiced reservations.
SLMM Head Ulf Henricsson, ironically a Swede, said that two non-EU nations in the SLMM, Norway and Iceland both are reluctant to increase the number of monitors on their own or to continue as monitors without the other three countries that make up
the SLMM - Sweden, Denmark and Finland.
There is international pressure on the Tigers to soften their stance. Last week outgoing US Ambassador Jeffery Lunstead too weighed in.
"The SLMM does a very difficult job and a very thankless job. It is very difficult for the SLMM to continue if EU nations are removed. Without the SLMM, all this would be even more difficult," he said during his farewell press conference.
However, the Tigers of late have reacted to international pressure by hardening their stance rather than appearing soft as witnessed in their reaction subsequent to the EU ban.