Government denies Sri Lanka teetering on the edge of civil war
Sat November 27, 2004 23:55 EST .
DILIP GANGULY - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Sri Lanka - will not descend into civil war, the government said Sunday, despite an apparent threat from a top Tamil Tiger rebel leader to revive an armed struggle unless stalled peace talks quickly resume. r autonomy in Sri Lanka - 's north and northeast, where most of the island's 3.2 million Tamils live.
``If the government rejects our urgent appeal and adopts delaying tactics perpetuating the suffering of our people, we have no alternative other than to advance the freedom struggle of our nation,'' Prabhakaran said.
The rebels began fighting in 1983 to create a separate state for Sri Lanka - 's minority Tamils. Some 65,000 people died in the conflict before a Norway-brokered cease-fire was signed in February 2002. But peace negotiations have been stalled since April 2003 over differences on power sharing.
Prabhakaran said Saturday the Tamil people could not continue to live in a political vacuum without an interim solution or a permanent settlement.
``The Sinhala nation neither assimilates and integrates our people to live in coexistence nor does it allow our people to secede and lead a separate existence. We cannot continue to live in the darkness of political uncertainty, without freedom, without emancipation, without any prospects for the future,'' he said.
A top Sri Lankan analyst, Jehan Perera, said the speech contained a ``veiled threat to resume hostilities.''
``It is a sign of frustration that their proposals have not been discussed for so many months. They are trying to force the government to deal with them rather than keep ignoring them,'' Perera, of independent think tank the National Peace Council, said.
Prabhakaran's speech marked the Tamil Tigers' annual Martyrs' Day, which commemorates some 18,000 rebel fighters killed in the insurgency.
Published: Sun Nov 28 00:22:18 EST 2004