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Sirisena says Lanka land release will be expedited

Press Trust of India  |  Colombo 

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena today said the remaining privately-owned lands in the former war zone in the North will be returned to rightful owners in three months, hours after UN chief Ban Ki-Moon called for expediting reconciliation efforts with the minority Tamils.

While a sizeable chunk of land has been returned, the state land is to be given to those who are landless and living in welfare centers or with friends and relatives, he said.

UN Secretary-General Ban called for actions to speed up the return of land held by the military and the Sri Lankan government so that the remaining communities of displaced people can return home.

Sirisena said in January that all displaced camps in the North will be shut within six months and people will be resettled.

The President said he informed Ban about the steps taken to strengthen democracy through the 19th Amendment to the Constitution and the establishment of Constitutional Council and independent Commissions.

He accused extremist Tamil elements of attempting to prevent any solution to the land issue.

"When the government allotted land to the people, these elements force them not to accept those lands as these extremist elements want the problems to continue as that would suit their ulterior motives," he said.

Referring to the small protest by Tamils which greeted Ban in Jaffna today, Sirisena said he had expected bigger protests during the visit as there are "elements with agendas".

Meanwhile, hundreds of relatives of those missing during and after the country's three decade-long civil war with the LTTE that ended in 2009 today requested Ban to initiate an international investigation to find their whereabouts.

Thousands of people have been listed as missing with their families continuously calling for an international probe.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, September 02 2016. 20:13 IST