Sri Lanka cabinet to meet in former Tiger capital

July 13, 2010 (AFP) – The Sri Lankan president and his ministers are to hold a meeting Wednesday in Kilinochchi, the northern town from which the Tamil Tiger rebels once ruled one-third of the island, officials said. Before the rebels were finally defeated last year, Kilinochchi was the capital of a de facto Tamil state that ran its own legal, banking and tax collecting systems.

The cabinet session in the city reflects the government’s wish to emphasise that the island is a unified nation — despite continuing deep ethnic divisions and the bitter aftermath of decades of war.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), who were fighting for a independent Tamil homeland, controlled one-third of Sri Lanka until President Mahinda Rajapakse launched a massive military offensive in 2006.

“The first cabinet meeting at district level is scheduled to be held on July 14 in the Kilinochchi district that was a strong bastion of LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran,” the government said in a statement on Tuesday.

Rajapakse will chair the meeting, at which ministers will review reconstruction in the former war zone where hundreds of thousands of ethnic Tamils who fled the fighting remain homeless.

The gover