Tuesday, Aug 26, 2003
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By V.S. Sambandan
The hartal in Trincomalee, described as "peaceful" by the security forces, was reportedly called by organisations backing the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The left-radical Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) has called the 116-km Galle-Colombo long march, which commenced from Galle today.
Leaflets distributed at the Trincomalee hartal, organised by Pongu Tamil committees, pressed the case for an interim administration for the LTTE, wanted the continuation of the merged northeast and opposed the Government's move to recruit 550 policemen in the east, security sources in the east told The Hindu.
In sharp contrast, the long march was to protest what was described as "attempts to divide the country". Banners criticising the Sri Lankan Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, for "betraying the interests of Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims to Tiger terrorists" were carried during the JVP procession, which is scheduled to reach Colombo on Thursday. The JVP, which is against departures from the island's unitary Constitution, has opposed the Wickremesinghe administration's talks with the LTTE.
Today's protests come at a time when the LTTE is holding "internal legal discussions" in Paris to prepare a response to the Government's offer for a Provisional Administrative Structure (PAS) for the northeast. The structure provides for an in-built majority for the LTTE, with powers over development-related subjects for the northeast but specifically excludes control over police, security, land and revenue.
Elsewhere in the east, the Government has started the drive to induct 550 policemen into the forces to maintain law and order in the region which often witnesses Tamil-Muslim violence.
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