Oct 12, 2006 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s president offered cabinet posts to the main opposition on Thursday in a bid to strike a bipartisan deal to end the island’s ethnic bloodshed, his office said. The parting of the ways with the Marxists has pushed the government closer to the main opposition which has more clout in parliament. President Mahinda Rajapakse in talks with opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe invited his United National Party (UNP) to join the cabinet and work towards solving the island’s festering ethnic conflict.
“President Rajapakse invited the UNP to join the cabinet of ministers to effectively carry out the agreed program of work,” an official statement said, adding that the two sides would work towards a formal agreement.
The initiative came as planned Sri Lankan peace talks hung in the balance after Tamil Tiger rebels inflicted heavy losses on government troops in fierce fighting that left hundreds killed or injured.
Norway has been working to restore a 2002 ceasefire and end spiralling violence that has claimed over 2,200 lives since December.
Opposition chief Wickremesinghe told reporters his party was supporting moves for a negotiated settlement with Tamil