Sri Lanka peace process, ceasefire in tatters

by Stefan Smith

COLOMBO, April 15, 2007 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s peace process is in tatters with both the government and Tamil Tigers once again pushing for a military solution, according to diplomats close to efforts to end the conflict. “This is not something that can be tackled only through military means,” Boteju said. “There must be a political (devolution) package and the longer we delay it, the more people will get killed.” International sponsors of the peace process are also resigned to Asia’s longest-running civil war dragging on for years to come, saying the two sides are only likely to return to talks once they are exhausted by more bloodshed.

“Neither the government nor the Tigers are interested in paying anything more than lip service to the peace process and the 2002 ceasefire,” said one official involved in the Norwegian-led peace effort.

“The Norwegians are only acting as facilitators, not to impose anything. But at the present time, they are not being asked to facilitate anything,” said the diplomat, who asked not to be named.

The ceasefire, along with the peace negotiations, broke down last year — leaving both sides squaring up for another round in the 35-year-old ethnic conflict.

Last November, Tamil