Sinhala  Tamil    Seperate    
Governtment of Sri Lanka

1985 to 2001: Early Talks

Discussions with the LTTE date back to 1985, not so many years after the organisation started its campaign of violence.  At that stage, the negotiations included many different parties.  The other groups accepted the political reforms offered by the Government as sufficient to resolve their grievances, and they entered the democratic mainstream.   The LTTE, however, just kept fighting on.

Thimpu talks

It began with what are known as the Thimpu talks.  The LTTE and other militant groups attended along with the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) - the main Tamil political party, elected to Parliament in 1977 but no longer there having vacated their seats after the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution was passed in 1983.  In any case, following the anti-Tamil riots of 1983, influence amongst Tamils had passed from the TULF to militant groups, which all attended at Thimpu.

Both sides claimed the intransigence of the other led to the breakdown of the talks.  However, to quote Kethesh Loganathan, who represented one of the militant groups at the time, 'The Tamil organisations took the position that the burden of presenting a broadly acceptable formula lay with Colombo.  The Tamil delegation, instead, subjected the Sri Lankan government delegation to a series of 'lectures' on what constituted the ethnic question and as to why the burden lay with Colombo to come out with a solution 'worthy of our consideration'.'

Even more significantly, the LTTE used this period to strengthen itself at the expense of the other Tamil groups.  They decimated the Eelam People's Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF) and eliminated Sri Sabaratnam, the leader of the Tamil Eelam Liberation Organisation (TELO), and by the time the talks broke down had emerged as by far the most powerful of the groups.  Years later, the LTTE would murder Kethesh Loganathan too, then Deputy Secretary General of the Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process.

The Indo-Lanka Agreement and discussions with President Premadasa 

Following the Indo-Lanka Accord of 1987, the other Tamil militant groups entered the political process, but the LTTE, after initial acquiescence, broke with the Indians and precipitated a fierce conflict with the Indian Peace Keeping Force.  Unfortunately, for various reasons the new Sri Lankan government of President Premadasa, elected in 1988, was not positive about the Indian presence, and entered into informal negotiations with the LTTE.

The main purpose of this, from the LTTE side, seems again to have been weakening of other Tamil groups.  The chief victims this time were the leaders of the TULF, which had done very well in the parliamentary election of 1989.  The former Leader of the Opposition, A Amirthalingam, was killed along with the MP for Jaffna.  The Deputy Leader was injured and was never able to play an active role in politics again.  In addition, the TULF was rebuilding its leadership in the East, but the most prominent of its MPs there, Sam Tambimuttu, was also killed.

The Indo Lanka Accord

The LTTE continued on what seemed good terms with the Government until the IPKF was withdrawn and the Northeastern Provincial Council dissolved, its Chief Minister (Varatharaja Perumal of the EPRLF) having fled to India.  However it claimed that negotiations were not going well, and suddenly it withdrew, in the process killing over 600 policemen in the East who had dropped their defences because of what they thought was a truce.

President Kumaratunga tries again

Chandrika Kumaratunga won the Parliamentary election of 1994 on a manifesto of peace negotiations, and promptly as Prime Minister dismantled some of the security apparatus.  During the Presidential election that followed, her opponent Gamini Dissanayake of the UNP was killed by a suicide bomber during an election rally.

Talks continued until mid-1995, though again the LTTE claimed that they were not going well.  Though a formal agreement had been signed requiring notice of any abrogation of the truce, very sudden notice was followed by an attack on naval vessels in Trincomalee harbour.



The material presented on this website is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license , which allows free use, distribution, and creation of derivatives, so long as the license is unchanged and clearly noted, and the original author is attributed. Some of the works on this server may contain live references (or links) to information created and maintained by other organizations, the accuracy for which we are not responsible.The views expressed in the material on this website are personal to the respective authors and do not necessarily reflect any official view.

animated gif
Processing Request
Please Wait...