The Lanka Academic

 
MARCH 16, 2006 EST, USA
 
QUAERE VERUM
 
VOL. 6, NO. 344

JAYANTHA DHANAPALA

Candidate for UN Secretary General from Sri Lanka.
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F R E E      C L A S S I F I E D S
T  O  P      H  E  A  D  L  I  N  E
Norway appoints envoy to assist Solheim in Sri Lanka's peace bid
Shimali Senanayake in Colombo, March 16th, 2006, 7:00 pm. Norway has appointed a special envoy to Sri Lanka's peace process, officials said on Thursday. The envoy, with sound experience in conflict resolution in several countries including the Middle East, will assist top peace broker Erik Solheim in his peace efforts in Sri Lanka.

"The new appointment will supplement my efforts," Solheim said by telephone from the Norwegian capital Oslo.

Refuting reports of stepping away from his role in Sri Lanka, Solheim said there was no change in his job.

"I will continue to be in charge of the Norwegian process in Sri Lanka," he said.

Solheim refuted reports that he had stepped down from the pivotal role he had played in the peace process and would be replaced shortly.

Solheim was appointed as Norway's International Development Minister after the center-left coalition was elected to office in September.

Norway informed the Sri Lankan government and the Tigers on Thursday, about the appointment of a special envoy, government officials said.

Solheim had informed President Mahinda Rajapakse about the appointment in a letter, the officials said.

Norway's ambassador to Colombo Hans Brattskar informed the rebels of the new appointment during his meeting with S. P. Thamilselvan, the Tigers' political chief in northern rebel-held Kilinochchi earlier Thursday.

Solheim has been involved in Sri Lanka's peace efforts since 1998 and played a pivotal role to broker a February 2002, cease-fire agreement between the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil Tiger rebels. The truce halted two decades of fighting that had killed nearly 65,000 people.

Solheim said he will lead the Norwegian team at the April 19-21 talks scheduled to take place in Geneva, Switzerland.

"I will continue to remain constantly in touch with the parties," Solheim said. "Those who want to get rid of me, they can't celebrate. Others can be relieved."

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Published: Thu Mar 16 10:37:25 EST 2006


Peace process with Sri Lanka could be in jeopardy, Tamil rebels tell mediator Norway
Associated Press, Thu March 16, 2006 05:56 EST . VINCENT JEYAN - Associated Press Writer - KILINOCHCHI, Sri Lanka - (AP) Peace efforts between the Sri Lanka - government and Tamil Tiger rebels could be in jeopardy, the guerillas told a diplomat from peace broker Norway on Thursday.

Norway's ambassador to Sri Lanka - , Hans Brattskar, and Hagrup Haukland, the chief of Nordic truce monitors met the Tamil Tigers' political wing head S.P. Thamilselvan in the northern rebel stronghold of Kilinochchi.

At the meeting, Thamilselvan told the Norwegians that the government had failed to implement decisions taken during peace talks in Geneva last month.

``We, on behalf of our leadership, have explained to the Norwegians and the cease-fire monitors that this trend will certainly effect the furtherance of the peace process and put it in jeopardy,'' Thamilselvan told reporters after the meeting.

Thamilselvan also accused the government of supporting attacks against the rebels by a rival faction that split from the mainstream group in 2004. The government has denied any involvement.

``The government must decide whether they want to cover-up activities of armed groups or display its commitment to peace by controlling them,'' Thamilselvan said.

Peace talks between the government and the Tigers were held in Geneva on Feb. 22-23 where the two sides agreed to scale down violence which had led a four-year-old truce to the verge of collapse.

A sudden escalation of violence since December killed 150 people, including 81 government security personnel. The government and rebels have blamed each other for the attacks.

The government and rebels are scheduled to hold more talks in the Swiss capital next month.

Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam rebels have fought the government since 1983 to create a separate state for ethnic minority Tamils alleging systematic discrimination by the majority Sinhalese-dominated state.

More than 65,000 people were killed in the conflict before the Norway-brokered cease-fire was agreed in 2002.

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Published: Thu Mar 16 06:40:08 EST 2006 Back to the top


Norwegian Aid Minister Solheim to reduce role as Sri Lanka peace mediator
Associated Press, Thu March 16, 2006 06:35 EST . OSLO, Norway (AP) _ Norwegian Aid Minister Erik Solheim on Thursday said he will reduce his day-to-day role as peace mediator in Sri Lanka's civil war but will remain involved in efforts to solve the bloody conflict.

The Socialist Left politician said he was appointing an additional peace mediator to handle many of the details, because of his workload as member of the Norwegian Cabinet.

``I will still be involved in Sri Lanka, but not in the same day-to-day way,'' he said at a news conference in Oslo.

``I will participate in the (April 19-21) peace talks in Geneva as head of the Norwegian group, I will travel back and forth to Sri Lanka, I will have tight contact with the parties by telephone, but we need a person in addition to follow Sri Lanka from second to second,'' he said.

Solheim, 51, was instrumental in a Norwegian effort that led to a 2002 cease-fire between Sri Lanka's government and Tamil Tiger rebels fighting for an independent homeland.

The cease fire has been marred by violence, and Solheim led the sides first high level talks, in Geneva, in late February, where they agreed to continue talks.

Solheim said the extra mediator will be appointed soon, but declined to say anything more.

The Norwegian secretly started his effort in 2000, by meeting with both sides.

The Tamil Tigers have fought the government, demanding a separate state for ethnic minority Tamils. The rebels claim only independence can end discrimination of the Tamil ethnic minority by the Sinhalese majority.

The conflict has cost an estimated 65,000 lives.
Published: Thu Mar 16 09:53:21 EST 2006 Back to the top

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