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Last updated: 17 April, 2005 - Published 12:40 GMT
 
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Joint mechanism in weeks: Norway
 
Erik solheim in a tsunami refugee camp in Puttalam (photo Daya Lankapura)
Solheim says Muslims will also be included in the joint mechanism
Norwegian facilitators expect a breakthrough in the impasse on the proposed joint mechanism for tsunami reconstruction in Sri Lanka's devastated North and East.

“We are quite optimistic that the parties are very very close to finding a solution” Norwegian peace envoy Erik Solheim told Elmo Fernando at the Norochcholai Alamkudah Mullaitivu B refugee camp.

This is the first time Norwegian envoys visited Muslim war refugees who were evicted from northern areas under LTTE control by the LTTE in 1991.

Speaking with BBC Sandeshaya (BBC Sinhala) from Colombo soon after the visit to Puttalam, Solheim said that an agreement on the joint mechanism between Sri Lankan government and Tamil Tigers is expected to be set in motion within weeks.

Muslim issue

Solheim with Muslim refugees (photo Elmo Fernando)
Norway promised to do whatever possible not to forgert Muslims

He said that Muslims will also be included in the proposed mechanism.

Solheim assured that Norway “would do whatever possible to make sure” that Muslims are not forgotten at the negotiations.

In her New Year message President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga expressed willingness to accept the proposed joint mechanism.

She said that it "would be a foundation to find a final solution to the protracted national conflict."

JVP hurdle

However, any power sharing with Tamil Tigers is vehemently opposed by the ruling coalition partner Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), which has already called the joint mechanism "a first step towards dividing the country".

This will be the major obstacle in realising the joint mechanism "in few weeks".

Addressing JVP members in a ceremony in Anuradhapura commemorating the 1971 April armed uprising JVP Leader Somawansa Amarasinghe stated "some had said that Federal System would get 80 percent of the votes, if a referendum was held the next day not even 20 percent would vote for it."

He was clearly challenging a statement made earlier by Kumaratunga maintaining that 80 percent of voters are in favour of a Federal System.

 
 
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