Sri Lanka says the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) are welcome to share power in the island-nation just as the Maoists are doing in Nepal.
This was stated by Sri Lanka`s new Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama during a conversation with this correspondent here on Wednesday evening.
However, the Minister made it clear that, to be able to do this, the Tamil Tigers must
give up terrorism first and become stake-holders in order to share power.
Just as the Prachanda-led Maoists have given up terrorism and joined Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala`s government in the Himalayan nation, the Velupillai Prabhakaran-led Tamil Tigers too must give up arms to work with President Mahinda Rajapakse`s government.
Question: Just as Prachanda is playing a crucial role in Nepal after giving up terrorism, can Prabhakaran too play a major role in Sri
Lankan affairs? Can he hope to become the Prime Minister, for instance?
Bogollagama: Mr. Prabhakaran is a Sri Lankan citizen. First he should give up terrorism. We want the LTTE to become a stake-holder in Sri Lanka`s present and future. Let him fight elections and procure enough support in Parliament. He can aspire for any office in the land just like any Sri Lankan.
The conversation with the Minister took place shortly after he addressed a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents` Club of South Asia during his day-long trip to the Indian capital.
Even though President Rajapakse and his ministerial colleagues have been trying hard to persuade the LTTE to give up violence and join mainstream politics, this is perhaps the first time that a responsible Sri Lankan minister has actually declared that Prabhakaran can aspire to any office in the island once he and his cadres bid farewell to arms and participate in nation-building through democratic politics.
During his brief visit, Bogollagama called on Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and met his Indian counterpart Pranab Mukherjee. He briefed them on the efforts President Rajapakse is making to evolve and consolidate a Southern Consensus to produce a package of proposals that is acceptable to the minority Tamil community and the LTTE.
He left for Berlin late on Wednesday night.