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Government Gazette

Change in mission composition violation of MOU - Keheliya

COLOMBO: The Government yesterday declared that it viewed the LTTE's demand for the removal of European Union (EU) truce monitors from the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) as a violation of the Memorandum of Understanding to which they both were signatories.

"At the time of the Agreement both the Government and the LTTE agreed on the composition of the SLMM and five Nordic countries Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Iceland were selected for this purpose," Plan Implementation Minister and the Government's Defence spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella said at the weekly security situation briefing.

He questioned as to how ethical it was for the LTTE to request the removal of monitors from Sweden, Denmark and Finland from the 60 m ember body at this stage.

"They may even want to have Norway ousted as the facilitator and leave the SLMM redundant," he added querying as to how would the Government be expected to react to such a situation.

The Minister said both parties at different stages of the truce had disagreement with the monitors "but the Government opted to talk to settle these differences." The LTTE request, he said was brought before the Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process (SCOPP) by the Nordic facilitator and the Secretariat together with Norway was working on it.

According to Rambukwella it was the Government's view that the LTTE's change of mind on the SLMM composition at the present stage would hinder the already threatened peace process.

He added the LTTE's demand would place Norway in an awkward position, where the facilitator would have to inform the SLMM the LTTE has no faith in other countries barring Norway. "This is the second time the LTTE has put Norway into difficulty," he said.

Following the ban on the LTTE by the EU, the LTTE refused to have monitors from Sweden, Finland and Denmark serving in the truce monitoring team.

The Peace Secretariat stated that the time frame of one month, the LTTE has given to replace EU monitors with new monitors would raise practical difficulties, where the Government, the LTTE and Norway has to identify countries acceptable to both parties and are also willing to serve in the Monitoring Mission.

SCOPP said the facilitator Norway was also concerned about the LTTE's stance on EU monitors and the declared time limit to replace them.



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