Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan president pushes ahead with joint tsunami relief mechanism

COLOMBO, Jun 13, 2005 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- Sri Lankan President under siege for her plan to implement a joint tsunami relief mechanism with Tamil Tigers pursued her plan Monday despite more violent protests.

Chandrika Kumaratunga held separate talks with her own party's legislators and more importantly with the main opposition leader on the issue.

Whilst she was engaged in her agenda to set up a joint mechanism with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam the capital city witnessed another noisy street demonstration which was broken up by the police using tear gas and water cannon for the second time in three days.

The student wing of her main coalition partner, the JVP or the People's Liberation Front tried to break into the high security zone in the central Colombo Fort area mid afternoon where Kumaratunga's office cum residence is located.

The police arrested some 30 students while dispersing them by firing tear gas. Tear gasing affected a monk who was on a death fast for the third continuous day opposite the main railway station in Colombo.

Kumaratunga had talks with her Freedom Party (SLFP) legislators and electoral organizers on the joint deal proposal.

The SLFP sources said the president outlined the plan saying that it would be implemented after an appropriate public awareness campaign.

The SLFP members told the president that they were supportive of the plan but every care must be taken to save the ruling coalition.

Kumaratunga's ruling coalition is under threat with notice given by the JVP to leave the government on June 16 unless Kumaratunga gave up the joint deal plan by midnight of June 15.

The Sri Lankan president late afternoon held talks with her main political rival, the leader of the opposition Ranil Wickremesinghe.

The main opposition party sources said Wickremesinghe had told Kumaratunga to end the prevailing uncertainty over the mechanism by acting decisively and his party would not try to make political capital out of the crisis situation.

Kumaratunga's joint plan with the Tigers for tsunami relief co- ordination is being opposed by nationalistic forces who argue that it would confer official recognition to a terrorist organization.