5:06 PM

Ranil sneaks into the country?

UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe's sudden return to the country yesterday morning without informing his close party members has surprised many UNPers.

Wickremesinghe returned after an European visit, which included a controversial tour of Norway, when the armed forces were about to crush the LTTE.

Political sources said the exact time of the return had been kept a secret, possibly due to fears that some of the disgruntled party rebels themselves might organise unpleasant protests against the leader as was the experience of some of his trusted lieutenants at a meeting in Matara, the previous Saturday.

According to party insiders, Wickremesinghe had hopped a helicopter ride to Colombo after landing at Katunayake to avoid any possible protests on roads.

"According to the information we received from his confidants, Wickremesinghe has informed them that he will be landing yesterday evening at 4 p.m. But actually he had reached Sri Lanka at 8:07 a.m on flight number QR 300," a party insider said.
He said that the Leader has not made known his actual time of arrival due to the rumours that some ministers were planning to throw rotten eggs at him when he arrives through the VIP terminal.

"It is the reason which compelled him to take the normal arrival terminal instead of the VIP terminal. I think this is the first time he has taken the normal arrival terminal after he had become a Parliamentarian," the source asserted.
He also noted that Wickremesinghe did not have to be frightened of entering his own country, if he had arrived on the day President Rajapaksa had declared victory over the LTTE in Parliament.

"We all should pay respects to the President since he has concluded the war which was there for 30 years. As the party leader Ranil should have been present in Parliament on the day President Rajapaksa made his historic speech. The UNP is known as a dignified party but Ranil's behaviour has completely tarnished the image of the party and because of him even we are not able to face our supporters," he added.

5:04 PM

TNA in dilemma

Tamil National Alliance (TNA), which till now insisted on recognising the Tigers as the sole representative of the Tamil people, will now take some crucial decisions on their future stand in the coming days, party sources said yesterday.

The other major decision before them is whether to go along with the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, brought in under the Indo-Lanka Accord signed in 1987. The visiting Indian National Security Advisor, M.K. Narayanan and Indian Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon early this week reportedly got an assurance from the Sri Lankan Government that it would implement the 13th Amendment as a means of resolving the conflict. Earlier, the TNA rejected the 13th Amendment as being totally inadequate.

With much of the head and body of the LTTE decimated during the 'bitter end' of their fight early last week, sources said the TNA Parliamentary Group was scheduled to meet on Friday to decide on their next course of action, but owing to the death of their Ampara District Parliamentarian K. Pathmanathan in Tamil Nadu on Thursday, the meeting had been put off. His body was flown to Colombo on Friday and was taken to Karaitivu yesterday for cremation on Monday.

According to party sources their Parliamentary Group meeting was scheduled to take place on Friday at the residence of Gajendra Kumar (G.G.) Ponnambalam. However, when contacted in this regard Ponnambalam said he was not aware of any meeting scheduled to take place at his residence, and added he was too busy to discuss anything further and requested us to contact him much later.

Meanwhile, after the total liberation of the NFZ, there was fear something might have happened to Mullaitivu District MP Sathasivam Kanagaratnam as his whereabouts were not known. But he was traced and a CID team picked him up from the Menik Farm IDP camp on Thursday evening, according to TNA Parliamentarian Sivanathan Kisshor, to record a statement.
Yesterday, CID brought Kanagaratnam to the Jayaratne Funeral Parlour at Borella for him to pay his last respects to his dead colleague and took him back after about 20 minutes.

Now freed from Tiger shackles it looks as if some members of the TNA now want to arrive at a settlement with the South. TNA Parliamentarian Suresh Premachandran told News-Lanka that he never subscribed to the view of recognising Tigers as the sole representatives of the Tamils.

Since the gunfire has ceased, he said now was the time to redress problems facing Tamils, re-open A9 Road, demilitarise the entire region and even lift the daily curfew in Jaffna.
He said the short meeting they had with the two visiting Indian dignitaries on Thursday at the India House was hardly enough to bring out their problems.

5:02 PM

Prabha’s ashes thrown into sea

Not even the ashes remain of LTTE Leader Vellupillai Prabhakaran, the man who dreamt of an Eelam State. Defence authorities have taken steps to discard the ashes of Prabhakaran at sea.
According to Army Commander Gen. Sarath Fonseka, the cremation took place at Vellimullivaikkal, immediately after identification of the body. He also said that approximately 170 bodies had been identified of first, second and third ranking LTTE members who have been killed by the Army. Defence authorities have taken steps to have these bodies cremated as well.