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By Walter Jayawardhana reporting from Los Angeles

The Ranil Wickremesinghe administration has accepted the clipping of the wings of President Chandrika Kumaratunga through a constitutional amendment under the pressure of the terrorist group, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) as a pre-condition to the Thailand "peace talks".

Anton Balasingham, the chief negotiator of the LTTE and G. L. Peiris, the spokesman of the Ranil Wickremesinghe administration have stated at two separate press conferences in Oslo and in Colombo that a demand had been made to clip the wings of the executive President of Sri Lanka.
A happy team of mostly foreign negotiators surrounding two foreign terrorists after a decision was made to amend the Sri Lankan Constitution. (r-l) Bernard Goonetilleke, Jon Westborg, Vidar Helgesen, Milinda Moragoda, Erik Solheim, Anton Balasingham, Adele Balasingham, and Lisa Golden. Photo Norway govt
If the Sri Lankan Parliament passed the proposed constitutional amendment it would be the first time in history anywhere that a parliament had clipped the powers of an elected executive President as a pre condition to enter negotiations with a terrorist group demanding the carving out of a separate state of a country.

Addressing a press conference August 13, Anton Balasingham said, "We would like to negotiate with a government which is stable. The current conflict between the President and the Prime Minister is worrying." The main organ of the LTTE, the Tamil Guardian of August 14 further reporting on the matter said Balasingham voiced concern about a political conflict between the President and the Prime Minister and her ability to dissolve parliament, as a reason to demand the change in the Sri Lankan constitution..

Repeating what Balasingham said, two days ago, Peiris said in Colombo that the government should introduce a mechanism to assure political stability in the country to enter "peace talks in Thailand."

To do that, he said, within two weeks in the first part of September one constitutional amendment would be introduced in the Parliament which would allow all MP's to vote beyond party lines and clipping the power of the President to dissolve the parliament.

He said, the Ranil Wickremesinghe administration had already received the assurances of a two third majority of Sri Lanka parliament to support for the proposed amendment.

Despite Peiris's statement the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, a constituent member of the UNF coalition headed by Ranil Wickremesinghe had publicly opposed the move.

He also said fulfilling the other pre-condition the government would also de-proscribe the liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam ten days prior to the Thailand 'peace talks" The banned terrorist group still maintained the world's biggest army of suicide bombers and the government's own intelligence services had reported many dozens of them had already entered the capital city of Colombo using the relaxed security measures by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

But, Professor G.L. Peiris's political credibility had been tarnished before this statement, by announcing upcoming "peace talks" since May , on many occasions which never happened.

The opposition People's Alliance spokesman Dr. Sarath Amunugama said the statement of G.L.Peiris lacked credibility since he had been saying things in the past without any base. He said the government if they brought the constitutional amendment on the request of the LTTE it would definitely not get the necessary two thirds majority.

Dr. Sarath Amunugama said the government was facing an extremely difficult situation and was making these statements to frighten the government Members of Parliament. Dr. Amunugama said according to reliable information he had received from the members of parliament the government would never receive a two-thirds majority for this LTTE requested amendment.

After the Ranil Wickremesinghe administration accepted the LTTE condition an official statement of the Norwegian government said August 14 that direct talks between the liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and the Sri Lanka government would commence in Thailand between 12th and 17th of August , 2002 with Norwegian facilitation.

The announcement came in the wake of a meeting between Ranil Wickremesinghe's Special representative and cabinet minister Milinda Moragoda and LTTE's chief negotiator, Anton Balasingham and Norwegian facilitators , August 14, in Oslo, Norway.

But the majority of the people who participated at this meeting which brought pressure on the Sri Lankan government to make amends to its own constitution were ironically foreigners including Anton and Adele Balasingham. (EOM)

(16/08/02 go2lanka.com)