LTTE change of guard??
K.S. Rajkumar from Jaffna,
There is widespread speculation in Jaffna that some senior military leaders are leaving the LTTE due to "misunderstandings" with Pirabakaran. Sources close to the LTTE in Jaffna were dismissive of the reports published in several Colombo newspapers. The LTTE political leader in Vadamarachchi,is reported to have got visibly angry when someone asked him about one of the LTTE leaders rumored to be leaving the LTTE. Col. Soosai, the commander of Sea-Tigers and one of the three believed to be leaving the LTTE, is a native of Valvettithurai, in Vadamarachchi. News reports identified the other two as Col. Ram and Col. Sornam, the newly appointed military head for Trincomalee replacing Col. Paduman. Col. Paduman was the military head for Trincomalee, and was believed to be sympathetic to Col. Karuna. A native of Trincomalee, Col. Paduman took part in several successful military operations of the LTTE in Vanni. During the Karuna incident Paduman was kept under house arrest in Kilinochchi and his whereabouts are not known now.
Meanwhile, Daya Master, the LTTE spokesman and a senior member of its political division said in Kilinochchi, that ‘Rumors of a split in the LTTE ranks is not true’ and blamed the Sinhala media for trying to stir things up. Dismissing the talks on Soosai’s status within LTTE, Daya Master further said that Col. Soosai will be the keynote speaker at the LTTE’s women’s’ day celebrations that took place in Kilinochchi over the week end. However, Soosai was noticeably absent from the event, and there were no explanations from the LTTE for his absence. LTTE celebrated the women’s day events in several places in the north and east to commemorate the death anniversary of their first female fighter Ms. Malathy.
Mr. Elilan also dismissed the status of Col. Sornam in Trincomalee. Speaking at an event in Trincomalee, Elilan, the political head for the Trincomalee district said that ‘When the SLBC broadcast said that Col. Sornam is leaving LTTE due to differences of opinion with the leadership, I was there with Col. Sornam. These are pure lies by the Sinhala media.”
Col. Banu has now replaced Col. Ramesh, who was appointed as the Eastern commander following the revolt of Karuna. It is now come to light that Col. Ramesh is under arrest and is detained in Vanni accused of ‘accumulating unreasonable wealth’.
All t indications are that the LTTE leadership in Vanni is appointing people from the north to key positions in the eastern province. Col. Paduman, and Col. Ramesh, both natives of eastern province, have been replaced with Col. Sornam, and Col. Banu, both from the North.
Whether the three senior military leaders are leaving the LTTE is not confirmed by the Tiger leadership, but indications are that at least Col. Soosai is not part of the LTTE’s military leadership anymore. The weekend events in Kilinochchi points towards that direction.
Published: Mon Oct 11 21:23:37 EDT 2004