Lanka on the brink

THERE seems little prospect of an end to violence in Sri Lanka. The Lankan government is apparently in no mood to hold out the olive branch to Tiger rebels - it has announced that it is pulling out of the Norway-brokered 2002 ceasefire agreement.

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Published: Thu 17 Jan 2008, 9:06 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 3:59 PM

So essentially the government is keen to seek a military solution to the ethnic conflict, though it maintains that it is open to peace talks with the rebel group. Lankan officials have also been lashing out at rebel leaders for the past few days. On the other hand, Tamil Tigers are determined to take on government forces come what may.

Close on the heels of the blast in which a Lankan minister was killed, 23 people, including schoolchildren, on a bus have died in yet another explosion in a town south-east of Colombo. The government has blamed Tiger rebels for the blasts. Lankan soldiers and rebels are reportedly locked in a fierce combat in several parts of the northern part of the country. Violence has therefore escalated in the last few days and it's being predicted that there's every possibility of a full-fledged conflict this year.

It's not that the ceasefire period has been entirely peaceful. If anything, the farcical truce clearly came in handy for getting ready to fight all over again. According to reports, 5,000 people have been killed over the past two years with both the government and the rebel group doing precious little to stick to the peace agreement. And it's the civilians who have to bear the brunt of the standoff. A large number of civilians have reportedly been killed in air raids carried out by the Lankan government on rebel bases in the northern part of the country. Also, hundreds have been killed in explosions set off by rebels in various parts of the country. Thousands of Sri Lankans have been displaced. All these indicate a growing humanitarian crisis in the country as the international community's interest in the Lankan conflict seems to be on the wane.

With the Lankan government withdrawing from the ceasfire, the international community, including Sri Lanka's neighbours, should not remain spectators. Efforts should be made to keep communication channels between the government and rebels open. Peace talks should continue to address the core issues that include the grievances of the Tamil community in the war-ravaged nation. Sri Lankan lawmakers should also concentrate on finding a long-overdue poilitical solution to the conflict.

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