|Former rebel leader joins Sri Lankan government|
|Tuesday, 10 March 2009|
Colombo – A former Tamil rebel military leader in eastern Sri Lanka has joined the ruling party and been named a government minister, local newspapers said Tuesday. Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan, also known as "Colonel Karuna," was sworn as minister of National Integration and Reconciliation at a ceremony presided over by President Mahinda Rajapaksa Monday night, the state-run Daily News said.
Muralitharan and about 2,000 of his followers joined Rajapaksa's Sri Lanka Freedom Party, which leads the coalition government, the newspaper said.
The former rebel leader broke from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in 2004 to form his own faction, the Thamil Makkal Viddudhalai Puligal.
He played a key role in helping the security forces to recapture Sri Lanka's Eastern Province in military operations launched after August 2006.
Muralitharan has urged the minority Tamils to not support the LTTE, whose forces are now confined to an area of less than 40 square kilometers in the north-eastern part of Sri Lanka, as the government pushes on with what it calls a final offensive to end the civil war.
His re-insertion to mainstream politics was expected to help Rajapaksa's efforts to restore political control in the northern and eastern parts of the country.
The president has pledged to work with minority Tamil parties which enter the political mainstream toward resolving the ethnic conflicts.
|Last Updated ( Wednesday, 11 March 2009 )|
|< Prev||Next >|