Sri Lanka. In May, the army launched its biggest
offensive to date against the Tamil guerrillas. 20,000
people were put into "Operation Safe Victory". The intention
was to open a 7.5 km long link between the cities of
Vavuniya and Kilinochchi to the Jaffna Peninsula in the
north. According to
Countryaah, the offensive met with fierce resistance and even
late in the fall, the army held only two-thirds of the
distance. Several times, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the Liberal Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE),
succeeded in carrying out counterattacks that caused the
army heavy losses. After seven months of fighting, nearly
1,000 army soldiers were estimated to have fallen and 4,000
wounded. The guerrilla rebutted information that 4,500 had
been killed or injured from its ranks.
In October, at least 15 people were killed in an
explosion and a fire in central Colombo. As usual, the LTTE
was blamed. Just a week earlier, however, a state
investigation had cleaned the LTTE of the charge of having
murdered opposition leader Lalith Athulathmudali in 1993.
According to the investigation, it was then President
Ranasinghe Premadasa who planned the murder and allowed
criminals to carry it out. Premadasa himself was murdered
just a week after Athulathmudali.
Although Kumaratunga's party, the People's Alliance, won
the most votes in the October general elections, it did not
get an absolute majority, prompting the president to declare
that she would likely call on other political parties to
join the government. The People's Alliance got 108 seats, s8
more than SK. The Marxist JVP got 10 seats - the highest
number in the party's history. Sri Lanka's Muslim Congress
also got 10th. The most important Tamil party, TULF got 5,
and a former rebel group that had dropped the weapons,
Eelam's People's Democratic Party got 4.
In Christmas 2000, the LTTE declared unilateral ceasefire
to run until April 24, 2001. But a militant unit
dissatisfied with the process leading to ceasefire
negotiations broke the ceasefire and attacked a ship from
the Navy in Mullativu.
On July 11, 2001, President Kumaratunga lost his majority
in parliament when the coalition partner, the Muslim
Alliance withdrew. The president, therefore, dissolved
Parliament printed a referendum on amending the
Constitution. However, this vote was abandoned.
A short time later, the LTTE conducted a suicide attack
at Sri Lanka's international airport. It killed 17 people,
caused serious injuries at the airport and in tourism.
In November 2001, for the first time since the start of
the civil war, LTTE eased its demand for independence for
the Tamil provinces. LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran
declared that economic and political autonomy would be
sufficient to satisfy the Tamil ambitions.
UNHCR UNHCR stated that despite the ongoing peace
process, the situation remains very difficult for a more
massive repatriation. The UNHCR stated that the UN was not
yet able to organize a return for the 100,000 Tamil refugees
located in the southern part of India.
The alliance led by Wickremasinghe won the parliamentary
elections on December 19, 2001, on the promise of launching
negotiations on the final end of the armed conflict and
re-energizing the economy. Kumaratunga's alliance at the
same time lost control of the parliament.
The government launched a ceasefire with the LTTE after
the rebels agreed to follow it to the fullest. Prime
Minister Wickremasinghe put himself at the forefront of
efforts to create a negotiating process that could bring the
conflict to an end.
Sri Lanka's central bank declared that at the beginning
of 2002, the country's economy was at its lowest point ever
since independence from the UK. The war weakened the economy
and reduced the country's finances to a minimum. In order to
cope with the high cost of the war, the government has had
to print extra taxes, which has boosted inflation. According
to the aid organization Caritas, those who have served in
the war are the arms dealers and manufacturers, as well as
many young Sinhalese and Tamils who have found work by
joining the military.
After 7 years of total blockade, the government lifted in
January some of the restrictions on the transfer of food,
medicine and personal belongings to the northern Tamil
controlled areas. The purpose was thus to support the peace
efforts. At the same time, it was a fulfillment of one of
the LTTE's requirements up to the negotiations. At the same
time, the LTTE initiated its transformation from guerrilla
movement to political organization. The plan was for a
decision in June 2002 that the two parties should meet
directly at the negotiating table, somewhere in Thailand. In
this process, Norway played a key role as a mediator and
expected the two parties to draw up an agenda for the
negotiations. The clashes in the negotiations are likely to
be the creation of a transitional administration in the
conflict areas of northern and eastern Sri Lanka.
In April, the opposition held a large demonstration in
Colombo in protest of the peace process. The demonstration
was organized by Kumaratunga's People's Alliance and the
Left of the Popular Liberation Front. It was the first
manifestation of the importance of the government's efforts
to achieve peace. During the demonstration, the President
accused the Prime Minister of giving concessions that
threatened Sri Lanka's sovereignty.