Sri Lanka offers cash, devolution to end ethnic bloodshed

COLOMBO, July 11, 2006 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s president Tuesday offered 1.25 billion dollars to rebuild embattled regions and asked his advisors to come up with a power-sharing plan to end decades of ethnic bloodshed.

President Mahinda Rajapakse told a 15-member multi-ethnic panel appointed by him last week to come up with a formula that could lead to a new constitution that will grant extensive devolution of power to minority Tamils.

“Any solution must be seen as one that stretches to the maximum possible devolution without sacrificing the sovereignty of the country given the background to the conflict,” the president said.

“It is only by doing so that the aspirations of the Tamil people can be addressed, not through streams of blood and shattered limbs.”

He reiterated that than an invitation to the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to enter negotiations with the government was still open.

“I have invited the LTTE to engage itself on this process. It is only by doing so that the aspirations of the Tamil people can be addressed, not through streams of blood and shattered limbs.”

More than 60,000 people have been killed in the island’s drawn out Tamil separatist conflict since