TamilWeek Apr 23, 2006
Consultations Ongoing on Transport for
Eastern Leaders

21 April 2006

D
iscussions are ongoing on the transport modalities for LTTE Eastern
leaders to travel to Kilinochchi for consultations with the LTTE
leadership prior to the next round of negotiations in Geneva.

The LTTE had indicated a need for a meeting with its Eastern leaders
in preparation for the second round of talks. The government after
consulting with the SLMM offered a Sri Lanka Navy ferry to transport
the LTTE cadres from Vakarai to Mullaitivu and Mullailtivu to Vakarai.

The LTTE declined this offer and communicated through the SLMM
that they wished to move their leaders using LTTE boats. The GOSL
strongly objected to this proposal. The GOSL objection was in keeping
with the SLMM determination that the LTTE has no legitimate right to
be at sea without prior authorisation from the GOSL.

At this point, and for the first time, the LTTE also began to make the
transporting of its Eastern leaders to Mullaitivu a precondition for their
participation at the second round of talks in Geneva. Consequent to a
meeting with the Tokyo co-chair ambassadors in Kilinochchi on 10th
April 2006, the LTTE announced that “a final decision with regards to
the LTTE stand on CFA talks in Geneva would be taken only after
LTTE leaders from the East attend a crucial central committee meeting
with the Tiger leadership” .

However, in order not to jeopardize the second round of talks in
Geneva and in good faith, the GOSL offered the use of a civilian ferry
operated by the Sri Lanka Central Transport Board (SLCTB) escorted
by Sri Lanka Navy craft, and all arrangements were made for this
movement to take place on 15th April 2006. This offer was made
despite the LTTE’s bombing campaign targeting military personnel
and civilians and other provocative actions, due to GOSL’s
commitment to a negotiated peace.

It had been arranged that the ferry would transport 32 leaders for
Mullaitivu for disembarkation at Illankatai and Vakari and to Mullativu
with another 32 leaders from the East. The detailed conditions for the
movement were clearly agreed in advance.

On 15 April morning, close to 40 LTTE cadres boarded the ferry at
Mullaitivu far in excess of the 32 agreed. Again the GOSL showed
flexibility. The LTTE then unilaterally aborted the sea movement on
the ground that the Navy intended to escort the ferry.

The SLMM has agreed that there was no interference by the Sri Lanka
Navy in the movement of the ferry and no attempt had been made to
issue instructions to the Master of the ferry. The decision to abort the
sea movement had been made by the LTTE alone.

In a spirit of accommodation following further consultation with the
SLMM, the GOSL agreed to the use of a civilian helicopter chartered
by the Royal Norwegian Government as an acceptable solution to the
transport problem.

The decision to permit the use of a civilian helicopter was considered
a one-off measure taking into account the time limitations in terms of
the scheduled dates for talks in Geneva. The civilian helicopter will
have on board SLMM monitors at all times during the transportation of
LTTE leaders and all passengers will be unarmed and in civilian
clothing.

GOSL has discussed the use of a civilian helicopter with Mr. Jon
Hanssen Bauer. Presently Major General Ulf Henricsson Head of
SLMM, is in Kilinochchi consulting on the details of the proposal with
the LTTE.

This article may be used without alterations to its content and credit to
the Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process(SCOPP) must be
mentioned.
[Courtesy: Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process]