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The interview with Mr. Balasingham follows

The interview with Mr. Balasingham follows

Tamil Guardian: What is your assessment of the current crisis? Do you think that Karuna's mutiny will seriously undermine the Tamil national struggle? How far will it affect the peace process?

Mr Balasingham: As a person who has a deeper understanding of the evolutionary history of our liberation movement I can say, with certainty, that Karuna's estrangement from the leadership is not a major politico-military crisis in the LTTE as depicted by the Colombo media. Our organisation has faced similar problems of betrayals, treachery and disloyalty in the turbulent history of our freedom struggle. Our leadership has confronted these challenges and resolved them successfully as and when they arose. Therefore Karuna's dissent is not a new phenomenon.

The peace process will resume after the general elections between the LTTE and the new government elected by the Sinhala people with a mandate for peace and negotiated political settlement. We are confident that the people of Tamil Eelam will vote overwhelmingly for the Tamil National Alliance giving renewed accreditation to the LTTE as their sole representatives and endorsing our organisation's political objectives.

Tamil Guardian: Karuna claims that he commands a military formation of five thousand fighters and has the backing of the people of the east.What are your comments?

Mr Balasingham: We are not aware of the exact number of fighters he has under his command. What we know is that the vast number of his fighters are recent recruits and with no combat experience. They were recruited during the ceasefire times, for the cause of liberating the Tamil homeland constituting the northeast. All his fighters have taken an oath of allegiance to the Tamil national leader Mr Pirapaharan. In actual fact, they are Mr Pirapaharan's freedom fighters who have pledged their lives for the cause of the LTTE. It is a treacherous act of bad faith on the part of Karuna to impose his leadership on these innocent young men and women who joined the LTTE pledging their allegiance to the national leader and to the national cause.

Already almost all his senior commanders, political leaders and a substantial number of cadres have deserted Karuna and joined Mr Pirapaharan's command. We know that he is holding the rest of his fighters under tight security within the confines of his camp fearing mass scale desertion. Karuna's future depends on how long he can maintain order and the discipline of his cadres as an organised force under his command.

Tamil Guardian: Karuna has claimed that Mr Pirapaharan is preparing for a war and that he refused his request to send a contingent of one thousand fighters from his command. Is it true? What do you say about his assertions that he saved the LTTE leadership and Wanni region by sacrificing his cadres from the east?

Mr Balasingham: I learned from the LTTE leader that he never made any request for reinforcements. I can assure you that the LTTE leadership is not making any preparations for war. We are seriously and sincerely committed to peace and peaceful means of resolving the ethnic conflict.

As a battle hardened military man Karuna should know that it is not the number of combatants that determines the outcome of battles and the direction of war. Strategy, tactics, planning, intelligence, logistics, supply, technology, weapons systems and several other factors play crucial roles in modern conventional warfare. The military genius behind such a co-ordinated scheme of the war effort is none other than Mr Pirapaharan.

Tamil Guardian: There are reports to indicate thatWhat is your view on this development?

Mr Balasingham: We are aware of this problem. We are not surprised since Karuna is now acting against the Tamil cause. He has established clandestine contacts with the Sinhala military hierarchy and with chauvinistic political forces to gain recognition and concessions. We should let it be known to his contacts that they will cause irreparable damage to the peace process if they exploit Karuna's dissent. In this context we call upon the people of Batticaloa and Amparai to support the principles and policies enunciated in the TNA Manifesto and vote for the candidates who uphold them.

Tamil Guardian: As the theoretician of the LTTE, what is your view about Karuna's claim that Mr Pirapaharan has abandoned his struggle for political independence of the Tamil homeland based on the right to self-determination of the Tamil people. He refers to the LTTE leader's Heroes' Day speech of last year to justify his argument.

Mr Balasingham: Karuna is making confused statements about Mr Pirapaharan with the sinister motive of discrediting him. I can assure you that Mr Pirapaharan has not abandoned his cardinal political principles and projects.

In last year's Heroes' Day speech Mr Pirapaharan called upon the Government of Sri Lanka to implement LTTE's draft proposal for an interim administrative council with substantial self-governing authority. The proposal deals with an interim arrangement, not a permanent final solution. But he warned that 'if the Sinhala chauvinistic ruling elites continue to deny the rights of our people and oppose reconciliation and if the conditions of oppression continue, we have no alternative other than to secede and form an independent state invoking the right to self-determination of our people'. There is no reference in the text to say that Mr Pirapaharan has abandoned his political objective structured within the framework of the right to self-determination, which includes the right to secede and form and independent state.

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