Sri Lanka rivals secure deal to push for peace

Chief Regulatory Officer at CSE Renuke Wijayawardhane presenting the listing certificate to Executive Chairperson at Renuka Hotels Shibani Thambiayah

Oct 23, 2006 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s ruling party and the opposition agreed Monday to work together towards a political settlement to the island’s bloody ethnic fighting which has claimed more than 60,000 lives. The Tigers warned at the weekend they would unleash their bloody campaign island-wide if violence against Tamil areas continued, while the government blamed the rebels for more attacks overnight, including the shooting of a Hindu priest. President Mahinda Rajapakse said Monday’s agreement was a major boost to the island’s efforts to end the Tamil separatist conflict and could provide a solid backdrop for weekend negotiations with Tiger rebels in Geneva.

“What we have today is a significant political development that has placed the country closer to peace than at any other time,” he told AFP after his Sri Lanka Freedom Party signed a deal with the main opposition.

Tamil Tiger rebels had previously argued that the government could not get a two-thirds parliamentary majority to deliver on constitutional reforms that would devolve power and put an end to the bloodshed.

The president’s party forms a minority government and needs opposition support to approve legislation on any power-sharing deals wi