TNA Welcomes Government's Offer Of Land

Sri Lanka’s main opposition on Monday welcomed President Maithripala Sirisena’s promise of land for 100,000 people who were forced from their homes during the long civil war.

The majority of these people are Tamils.

The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) said Sirisena’s pledge to give displaced civilians new plots within six months was a “positive development,” but demanded that the military vacate the private land it occupied, AFP said.

“This is the first time he is giving a timeframe,” TNA spokesman MA Sumanthiran said a day after Sirisena made the offer.

“We welcome this as a very positive development but our stand is that the military must vacate all private lands they are occupying.”

Sirisena, who was elected last January, has won praise for starting to hand back land after the end in May 2009 of one of South Asia’s longest and bloodiest ethnic wars.

But he is also under international pressure to do more to ensure reconciliation.

The president said in an interview Sunday he would give land to civilians displaced by war by the middle of this year.

He admitted it was an “ambitious target” but said it was necessary to end what he called an “unacceptable situation.”

More than 100,000 people are still living away from their homes more than six years after the end of the war, Sumanthiran said, while another 168,000 live as refugees in neighbouring India.

(With inputs from AFP)

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