Polls victory to boost Sri Lanka peace hopes: negotiator

Apr.04 (AFP) – Hopes for peace in Sri Lanka have been strengthened by the ruling party’s landslide victory in local polls, the government’s top peace negotiator said Tuesday. Nimal Siripala de Silva said he told Norway’s new peace envoy, Jon Hanssen-Bauer, that last week’s victory had strengthened President Mahinda Rajapakse.

His political allies, who resist the initiative, were defeated.

“The victory in the recently concluded elections… has brought more strength and courage to the government to carry forward its policies and programmes for peace…in a more pragmatic way,” de Silva said in a statement.

He said he reiterated the government’s commitment to a negotiated settlement with the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) when he met Hanssen-Bauer on Monday.

Political analysts and local media have speculated that the president could call snap parliamentary polls if his two key nationalist allies try to block efforts to end the festering ethnic conflict.

The two parties, which oppose Norway’s peace role as well as any concessions to Tamil Tiger rebels, were routed in Thursday’s elections.

De Silva said he told Hanssen-Bauer there was no chan