Tigers to set the course for Sri Lanka’s new government

Sri Lanka’s new hawkish president is to make a policy statement pledging prosperity, but analysts and diplomats say they are focusing on a speech by the Tamil rebel leader this weekend that could fan fears of a slide back to civil war. Sri Lanka’s new hawkish president is to make a policy statement pledging prosperity, but analysts and diplomats say they are focusing on a speech by the Tamil rebel leader this weekend that could fan fears of a slide back to civil war. Left-leaning President Mahinda Rajapakse is slated to open a new session of parliament Friday with a policy declaration that government officials say is likely to be a reiteration of his election manifesto that was packed with promises of subsidies to boost the island’s economy.

However, analysts and diplomats say they are more keenly awaiting the annual policy declaration of Tamil Tiger rebels in view of the new hardline administration and renewed fears of the country slipping back to war.

“We’re anxiously waiting for (Tiger leader Velupillai) Prabhakaran to make his speech,” a diplomatic source said. “That will give us an inkling about the direction of the peace process.”

Tiger chief Prabhakaran, who turns 51 Saturday, is to deliver his “state of the nation”