Sri Lanka ‘peace long from being won’: former mediator

OSLO, May 17, 2009 (AFP) – Peace is far from being won in Sri Lanka, despite the government’s claims to have scored a crushing military victory against Tamil Tiger rebels, the former negotiator in the conflict said Sunday. “Peace is long from being won,” said Minister of Environment and International Development Erik Solheim.

“The Sri Lankan authorities must demonstrate generosity towards the Tamil population and grant Tamils autonomy and create a state that includes everyone,” he said.

“The conflict is not resolved even if the battle has been won.”

Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tigers on Sunday admitted defeat in their decades-old battle for an independent ethnic homeland, with the remnants of their rebel army encircled by advancing government forces.

Norway helped broker a ceasefire in February 2002, which in practice came to an end in October 2006 when peace negotiations broke down.

Colombo stripped Norway of its role as broker of the island’s moribund peace process in April following an attack by Tamil demonstrators on its embassy in Oslo.