New Sri Lanka CM calls for army withdrawal

Colombo, Oct 25 (IANS) The new chief minister of Sri Lanka's Tamil-dominated Northern Province Friday called for the withdrawal of the military from the area.

Speaking at the inaugural session of the Northern Provincial Council in northern Jaffna town, C.V. Wigneswaran said the army must be confined to its barracks in the post-war environment, Xinhua reported.

This part of Sri Lanka has been battered by war between the army and Tamil Tiger rebels for 30 years in which thousands were killed.

The first provincial council elections held in the area last month saw Wigneswaran's Tamil National Alliance sweeping to victory.

Wigneswaran called on the Tamil diaspora to support the Tamils in the north to rebuild their lives and expressed hope of working closely with south India.

"Our people will not work in a way which makes it necessary for the army to remain in full strength in the north," he said.

The army has maintained that troops will need to continue to operate in the north as there is a threat of extremists supporting the cause of the Tamil Tiger rebels.

The rebels were defeated by the army in May 2009 but the government says rebel supporters are still fully active overseas.

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