Ex-Lankan President to head task force for reconciliation of Tamils

Former Sri Lankan president Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga will head a special presidential task force to identify urgent reconciliation needs of the minority Tamil community, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said on Thursday.

“We are focused in achieving communal and religious harmony,” Mr. Wickremesinghe said.

SL_thmni_jpg_2353871fThe new government has set up a dedicated office for reconciliation under the Chair of 69-year-old Ms. Kumaratunga, the country’s first woman president.

The Presidential Task Force on Reconciliation (PTFR) would identify urgent reconciliation needs that require immediate solutions. The PTFR would also consider proposals from citizens for the purpose.

Ms. Kumaratunga was the fifth President of Sri Lanka, who served from 1994 to 2005. In November last year, she formally announced her return to active politics.

The Tamil Tigers were engaged in an “armed conflict” with Sri Lankan government forces for nearly three decades, but were militarily defeated in 2009. The conflict killed at least 100,000 people, mostly Tamils.

India has been pressing Sri Lanka to take more steps to ensure reconciliation with Tamils.

During Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit to Sri Lanka, he had urged the Sri Lankan government to ensure early and full implementation of the 13th Amendment, a 1987 constitutional provision on greater autonomy and go beyond it in the reconciliation process.

“We believe that early and full implementation of the 13th Amendment and going beyond it would contribute to this process,” Mr. Modi had said.