Monday, May 25, 2009

Sri Lanka Wants Partners Not Monitors for Post-War Development

By Paul Tighe and Jay Shankar

May 25 (Bloomberg) -- Sri Lanka said it needs partners, not monitors, in the international community to help the South Asian island nation rebuild after the end of a 26-year conflict with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

Assistance must be “according to the wishes of the people of Sri Lanka,” Basil Rajapaksa, senior presidential adviser, said, according to the government’s Web site. “We don’t want ‘monitors,’ we need partners.”

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon ended a two- day visit to the country at the weekend with a call to the government to start the process of reconciliation with the Tamil community and for aid to reach an estimated 300,000 people displaced by the fighting in the north.

Sri Lanka’s government said last week its forces defeated the Tamil Tigers, ending their fight for a separate Tamil homeland in the east and north. President Mahinda Rajapaksa said aid workers will be allowed into the conflict zone once the army completes operations to clear rebels hiding among the refugees.

“The international community must understand that it is we, the people of this country, who had to endure this problem” of terrorism, Basil Rajapaksa said in an interview. “There is nobody else who understands the repercussions and the sufferings.”

Good Record

The government has a “good record” dealing with displaced civilians in the past, he said. It is committed to returning people who fled in recent months to their homes.

“We will ensure that when everybody in the north returns to their homes, they will go back to a place where there is security,” he added.

Sri Lanka said last week it intends to resettle the displaced people within 180 days and close the transit camps.

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