President Chandrika Kumaratunga yesterday speculated that Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar had been killed by `political foes opposed to the peaceful transformation of conflict and who were determined to undermine attempts towards a negotiated political solution to the ethnic conflict`.
Sources from her office denied that the words `political foes` referred to the JVP but also declined to hold the LTTE responsible for the assassination. `There are very few people who can do this kind of killing but we don`t want to speculate right now,`an official said.
`Anyone who killed Lakshman Kadirgamar was against a negotiated end to the conflict,` he elaborated. `By referring to them as political foes, we simply meant that the killing itself was political. We didn`t mean to imply that the assassins were political.`
Others were less reticent. Among them was vociferous LTTE critic and Tamil United Liberation Front leader, V Anandasangaree, whose own life is under serious threat. `What are you asking? Where do you come from?` an incredulous Anandasangaree replied, when asked why he suspected the LTTE. `It is definitely the work of the LTTE. I have no hesitation in condemning the LTTE for the assassination of Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar.`
`I don`t understand what they gain from this sort of horrendous act,` he continued. `Although he opposed separatism, Lakshman Kadirgamar had been doing a lot to find a solution to the ethnic problem. He felt deeply for his country and his people.`
Anandasangaree said that he pitied the Tamil people. `I`m feeling sorry for the Tamil people,` he said. `All the sensible, good Tamil thinkers who can contribute positively to society are being done away with. The LTTE is doing away with everybody. Ultimately, on Prabhakaran and Tamilselvan will remain.`
`I`m appealing to all political parties to find a solution to the ethnic problem and to tell the international community to bear on the LTTE to stop these killings,` he said.
However, general confidence in the international community ? particularly Norway ? was low. `The international community doesn`t come down on them,` said a senior government official connected with the peace process. `The Norwegians are just scratching the backs of their heads. I have not seen a single country come down hard on the LTTE.`
`The LTTE have been able to adapt themselves not to be affected by the international community,` he said, speaking on condition of anonymity. `They have taken advantage of the international community. Their people travel around freely. They go to France, England, Germany and so on. I don`t think they`re too worried about the international community.
`They have insulated themselves and are doing what they can to knock off members of the Tamil community who don`t subscribe to their views. Ninety-five per cent of those killed by the LTTE are Tamils.`
Military spokesman Brig Daya Ratnayake also maintained that the killing was an act of the LTTE. `Minister Kadirgamar has been on their hit list for years,` he commented. `They had been trying for the last ten to twelve years to eliminate him, he was a prime target.`
Asked why the LTTE would risk international censure by killing Kadirgamar, Brig Ratnayake said: `What has happened to the LTTE after condemnation by the international community? Nothing at all. The international community must take physical action to penalise them and not just make statements.`
`The LTTE are not worried about condemnation because they think they can regain support after some time,` he explained. `That`s what happened after Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi`s killing. They only suffer temporary losses. Their mechanisms and lobbying networks are functioning well.`
Brig Ratnayake said the LTTE had timed this killing after studying the current domestic and international scenario. On the domestic front, political parties in the south are deeply divided. Therefore, there is no organised threat to the LTTE. India is preoccupied with lobbying for a UN Security Council seat and other matters. America is bogged down in Iraq and Britain is struggling with its own terrorism challenges.
`They chose the right moment after close analysis,` Brig Ratnayake asserted. `As for the incident, there is strong evidence to believe that the LTTE were responsible. We are keeping an open mind in investigations but that doesn`t prevent us from pointing a finger at the LTTE.`
The Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission yesterday emphasised that Kadirgamar`s murder was a serious threat to the cease-fire.
A statement by Hagrup Haukland, acting chief of the SLMM, said: `The SLMM strongly condemns the brutal assassination of Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar. This barbaric act is a blow to the peace process as a whole.
`Such brutal violence creates fear, distrust and insecurity within society and, therefore, presents a serious threat to the cease-fire. I sincerely hope that the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE will continue in their efforts to maintain the cease-fire and to implement confidence building measures at this fragile moment.
`SLMM will continue to do its utmost to assist the parties to the cease-fire agreement.`