The Sri Lankan government is attempting to broker a deal with the Tamil Tiger rebels that could see their veteran leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran, allowed to lay down his arms and escape into exile in the hope of ending the island s bitter conflict. In what might represent an attempt to seize on possible divisions within the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), The Independent has learnt that the government has put out feelers to the LTTE to see whether such a deal would be possible.
The arrangement could also see the remaining fighters, who are trapped along with 150,000 civilians in the north of the country, rehabilitated .
Such an arrangement would be highly controversial, both in Sri Lanka and internationally, but some within the government believe it would be a price worth paying to end the conflict.
If there was an absolute guarantee ? that he will not dabble in terrorism or politics that is an Idi Amin situation, then it might work, said one informed source in Colombo, referring to the former Ugandan dictator who in 1979 went into exile until his death.
Ironically, news of the initiative came as a two-day ceasefire ended and fighting reportedly resumed. A pro-rebel website claimed that Sri Lankan forces attacked LTTE positions with artillery and heavy machine guns although a military spokesman denied launching a new attack.