Sri Lanka’s peace chief quits amid deadlock in talks

Sri Lanka’s top official handling the peace process with Tamil Tiger rebels resigned Wednesday ahead of presidential elections this month, a government official said. Sri Lanka’s top official handling the peace process with Tamil Tiger rebels resigned Wednesday ahead of presidential elections this month, a government official said. President Chandrika Kumaratunga accepted the resignation of Jayantha Dhanapala, the head of the Secretariat for Co-ordinating the Peace Process (SCOPP), the official told AFP.

He said Kumaratunga did not name a replacement for Dhanapala who had served for 18 months. He is also Sri Lanka’s nominee for the United Nations Secretary General’s job after Kofi Annan retires.

Quitting the peace secretariat had no immediate bearing on Dhanapala’s candidature, an official said, but it was not clear if a new president would want him to continue to offer himself for the UN’s top job.

Dhanapala was named as Sri Lanka’s candidate after the current government came to power in April last year and removed Colombo’s earlier nominee, the then-foreign minister Tyronne Fernando.

SCOPP spokeswoman Sharmini Serasinghe confirmed that Dhanapa