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Norwegian diplomats to Sri Lanka

Parliamentary Under-Secretary Vidar Helgesen and Special Councilor Erik Solheim arrived in Sri Lanka Monday evening to try to get the peace process back on track.

The two Norwegian peace mediators have a difficult task ahead of them. The Tamils and the Sinhalese government are far from reaching an agreement, at the same time as there is a power struggle between Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and President Chandrika Kumaratung.

Wickremesinghe said Tuesday that the entire peace process is threatened due to the political instability the president unleashed last week as President Kumaratung dissolved the parliament and declared a state of emergency.

The peace process is threatened

The president stated that the cease the Prime Minister signed with the rebel group LTTE is illegal. Furthermore, last week she fired four ministers because she claimed they had presented too large admissions to the LTTE.

“The occurrences the last couple of days have inflicted much damage on the peace process,” the Prime Minister said according to his spokesperson G.L. Peiris, according to the news agency AFP.

The Prime Minister has said that he is ready to hold an election that will decide the power struggle between him and the President.

Norwegian diplomats

Monday night came State Secretary Helgesen and Special Counselor Solheim from the Norwegian Department of Foreign Affairs to Sri Lanka to mediate between the two parties.

They are going to meet Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and the President’s advisor Lakshman Kadirgamar, in addition to a number of other party and religious leaders on Tuesday.

The two Norwegian diplomats are meeting with President Kumaratunga on Wednesday, and Thursday they are traveling to the Tamils headquarters in Kilinochchi, in northern Sri Lanka, informed Thomas Stangeland, embassy secretary at the Norwegian embassy in Colombo, according to the Norwegian news bureau (NTB).

The Norwegian diplomats’ main task is to arrange the next round of discussions between the government and the LTTE. According to the plan, these meetings are to take place during November or early December.

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