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By Our Special Correspondent
Mr. Devananda, who met top officials and political leaders in India to plead his case, said any plan to put in place an interim administration should reflect the pluralism and democratic aspirations of Sri Lanka.
The LTTE, he said, should not be recognised as the "sole representative" of the Tamil people. Although a majority of the Sri Lankan Tamils were still opposed to the LTTE, they had been terrorised into submission. The decommissioning of the LTTE should be a pre-condition for the setting up of an interim administration.
India, as a regional power with a history of involvement in the Sri Lankan crisis, had the responsibility to intervene in Sri Lanka, Mr. Devananda said in an interview. Even while taking note of India's decision not to intervene militarily, he said there was still scope for influencing the international community, if not the LTTE, to shift the focus of the peace process back to the core issues of finding a political solution and ensuring democracy and human rights for the Tamils. "We've sent an SOS to the Indian leaders," he said. Any interim administration must lead to a political settlement; otherwise the peace process would be reduced to "building castles in the air."
The LTTE, he argued, was merely biding time and could not be trusted to agree to any lasting solution. It would necessarily raise its demands as the peace process made progress. The gains made at one stage of the peace process would become the starting point for the next stage thus setting back the whole process. Talks with such an organisation were bound to fail, he pointed out. "The ceasefire is only the calm before the storm," he said, warning of renewed terrorist attacks by the LTTE. Appreciating the efforts of the Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, as "genuine", he said these were, however, unlikely to bear fruit. "You can't hold on to a tiger which has grease all over it."
Despite finding the situation tough for the EPDP in northern Sri Lanka, where his cadres continue to be shot down by the LTTE, Mr. Devananda was determined to continue the struggle and not flee the island.
"It is easy for me to obtain political asylum anywhere. But I don't want to flee like Varadaraja Perumal (EPRLF leader). I want to help my people reach the shore safely. Prabakaran (LTTE chief) does not have ten arms and legs. We will fight him," he said.
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