Chandrika to cut tsunami aid deal with Tigers anyway

Agence France Presse

Kandy, May 16:

Sri Lanka’s president told international donors today that she will enter into an aid-sharing deal with Tiger rebels despite threats to her life from “within and outside” her government.

President Chandrika Kumaratunga made the remarks at the opening of a two-day aid meeting attended by more than 125 participants including the World Bank, Japan and the United States aimed at helping the island nation rebuild its economy after two decades of civil war and last December’s tsunami. Kumaratunga vowed to the donors that the country would go ahead with a proposed deal to distribute tsunami aid in tandem with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam despite threats from opponents of the plan.

“In the decisions we are called upon to take, the lives of some of us are in extreme danger,” Kumaratunga said, adding that most of her coalition government supported the move. She said that there is a threat “from within” her government as well, in an apparent reference to opposition to the aid distribution deal from her Marxist ally, the JVP, or People’s Liberation Front.

The World Bank, speaking on behalf of the donors, said they supported her aim for a deal with the the LTTE and noted it could boost the island’s peace hopes. Kumaratunga assured the international donors, who had pledged two billion dollars for tsunami reconstruction and another billion for budgetary support, of working with LTTE.