Tamil Tiger supremo faces war or peace deadline in Sri Lanka

Nov 27, 2006 (AFP) – Tamil Tiger supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran was to deliver a keenly-awaited address Monday to Sri Lanka’s embattled Tamil people that will help shape the course of the island’s troubled peace process. The defence ministry reports 2,018 Tiger rebels killed in the past year. His speech will come one year after he warned the government to come up with a political solution within a year to Asia’s longest-running ethnic conflict or face an escalation in the fighting.

It will be delivered in a secret northern location and closely scrutinised by Sri Lanka’s leaders, as well as foreign capitals struggling to broker peace amid an upsurge in violence that has killed than 3,400 people this year.

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse recalled Friday that Prabhakaran had last year described him as a “practical leader” and said he still hoped peace negotiations would resume.

“I am in the process of evolving a political package. I am sure we can discuss it with the Tigers,” Rajapakse told AFP. “Let us see what he has to say in his speech.”

During decades of bloodshed in which more than 60,000 people have perished, successive governments in Colombo have learned to take Prabhakaran seriously.