Negotiated settlement need of the hour in Sri Lanka: CSM

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New Delhi/Colombo, May 19 (ANI): Following the military decimation of the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE), the main challenge now before the Sri Lankan Government and President Mahinda Rajapaksa, analysts say, is to work out a negotiated settlement for Sri Lanka's Tamil community, who make up 18 percent of the population, and on whose behalf the Tamil Tigers claim to be fighting.

"The military phase of the war will end soon, and Sri Lanka will witness a post-conflict phase. Now work must begin to give Tamils must be given democratic space," says Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, executive director of the Colombo-based Centre for Policy Alternatives.

Colombo has yet to announce a blueprint for such a negotiated settlement with Tamils, reports an article in the Christian Science Monitor.

"Only after the dust of the LTTE's military defeat settles will the Sri Lankan Tamil community get an opportunity to assess where it is, the nature and extent of the political space available, and what shape its politics could take," adds Jayadeva Uyangoda, the head of the political science department at Colombo University.

The Sri Lankan military claimed it shot dead Vellipulai Prabhakaran Monday, a day after the rebels admitted defeat in their 26-year war.

For decades, Prabhakaran played an instrumental role in demanding a separate homeland for the island's ethnic Tamil minority and in building up the LTTE's military capabilities.

"[Prabhakaran] was the LTTE's supreme leader, its god, its icon. Minus him, the LTTE will never be its old self," says M. Narayanswamy, the New Delhi-based author of a biography of the rebel leader, "Inside an Elusive Mind."

The LTTE, which is considered a terrorist group by 32 countries, has committed hundreds of suicide bombings.

It has also carried out assassinations of high-profile politicians that got in its way, including former President Ranasinghe Premadasa in 1993 and former Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi 1991.

Sri Lanka's humanitarian crisis continues to raise international concern. More than 250,000 people people have fled from the war zone since January - 25,000 of these since mid-May alone.

Saravanamuttu says concerns remain whether the country is equipped to handle the pouring out of such an overwhelming number of displaced people.

On Monday, the European Union called for an independent investigation into the alleged war crimes committed by both sides in recent months of fighting.

Questions also remain over whether remaining rebels could wage a low-level insurgency in Sri Lanka.

Even if so, it may not be a realistic threat if the LTTE's top-rung leadership has been wiped out in the current phase of fighting, says Saravanamuttu.

"LTTE without its leadership can't do very much." (ANI)

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