Sinhala  Tamil    Seperate    
Governtment of Sri Lanka

2002 to 2008: Ceasefire Agreement

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe addressing a press conference after signing the Ceasefire Agreement.The Government of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe signed the Ceasefire Agreement with the LTTE in February 2002, with Norwegian assistance.

Ceasefire Agreement

Unfortunately, the LTTE used Government adherence to the pact to build up its own strength, with massive importation of weapons, while paying little attention to the idea of an end to hostilities.  In five years, the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission found the LTTE guilty of 3,830 violations, while holding the Government responsible for only 351.

Monitoring Mission

Peace Talks, 2002 to 2003

The Ceasefire Agreement was also supposed to include negotiations, but after six rounds of talks in a period of just over a year, the LTTE withdrew from negotiations in April 2003.  It should be noted that, even if the organisation genuinely felt that both Presidents Premadasa and Kumaratunga were not serious in negotiation, the same could scarcely be said of Prime Minister Wickremasinghe, who was widely believed - and certainly so by the Sri Lankan electorate when it voted largely on this issue in April 2004 - to be bending over backwards to appease the LTTE.

To quote former LTTE military commander Karuna as to why the LTTE reneged on what seemed the most promising development of the talks, ‘LTTE negotiator Anton Balasingham, without consulting Prabhakaran, stated that they were willing to consider a federal system.  When he discussed this with Prabhakaran, the idea was rejected.  He wanted talks dragged for at least five years while the LTTE built up its arms.’

Session 1: 16-18 September 2002, Thailand 
Session 2: 31 October-3 November 2002, Thailand 
Session 3: 2-5 December 2002, Norway 
Session 4: 6-9 January 2003, Thailand 
Session 5: 7-8 February 2003, Germany 
Session 6: 18-21 March 2003, Japan

Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar, the most senior Tamil Cabinet member, who was assassinated by the LTTE.The LTTE took advantage of the Ceasefire Agreement to attack its Tamil opponents, namely former militant groups such as the EPDP, PLOTE and the Perumal wing of the EPRLF.  The TULF was now very much under LTTE control, its last independent leader Neelan Tiruchelvam having been killed by the LTTE in 1999.  In 2005, the LTTE killed Lakshman Kadirgamar, President Kumaratunga's Foreign Minister.

By then, the Government was again under President Kumaratunga, who had taken over the Defence Ministry from Prime Minister Wickremasinghe's nominee, following a Supreme Court ruling that the President had to be responsible for defence.  Attempts at compromise between the two leaders failed, so an election was held in April 2004, and this was won decisely by the President's party.

The LTTE refused to return to formal negotiations, but they did engage in informal discussions following the December 2004 tsunami regarding a mechanism to deal with aid.  The structure that was agreed was deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court but, before any further negotiations could take place, a Presidential election was held, at the end of 2005.

Post-Tsunami Operational Management Structure

Ceasefire Talks, 2006

Soon after the election of H.E. the President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the LTTE launched a series of attacks on the Security Forces, which led the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission to question whether the Ceasefire Agreement still existed.  However, the LTTE eventually agreed to participate in fresh talks, having insisted that these took place in Europe.

The first negotiations took place in Geneva in February 2006, and seemed positive, but the LTTE refused to attend the next round that had been scheduled for April.  Instead, they sent a suicide bomber to kill the Army Commander.

The Geneva talks of February 2006

The LTTE finally agreed to rejoin negotiations in Oslo in June 2006.  However, having been flown there, they refused to appear.  Though various reasons have been adduced, one is that the Norwegian Ambassador had made clear to them that the issue of child soldiers could not be ruled out of the agenda.

In August 2006, perhaps assuming that their military build-up was satisfactory, the LTTE launched two massive attacks, in the East and the North respectively.  Had either succeeded, the capacity of the Government to maintain control of large areas would have been doubtful.  However, the Security Forces repulsed the attacks, and then decided that the right to self-defence in the Ceasefire Agreement included the right to ensure that sudden assaults of this kind could not take place again.

Thus began the process of clearing the East, which had been largely under Government control in 2002, although the LTTE had succeeded in increasing its influence in the area over the period of the Ceasefire Agreement.

Despite these ongoing hostilities, the LTTE agreed to return to negotiations in Geneva in October 2006.  However, after what seemed another positive first day, the LTTE withdrew on the second, following what one diplomat described as the famous call from Kilinochchi, the LTTE Headquarters.



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