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Sri Lanka's political rivals reach consensus to solve separatist conflict, lawmakers say

Sri Lanka's political rivals reach consensus to solve separatist conflict, lawmakers say

Sri Lanka's largest political parties, considered arch rivals, on Thursday agreed on a common program to solve the country's pressing problems, mainly a bloody two-decade civil war, lawmakers said.
Sri Lanka Freedom Party, the chief member of the country's ruling coalition and main opposition United National Party have agreed on dealing with six key issues including the war, economic development, electoral reforms, good governance, educational reforms and social development, opposition lawmaker Gamini Peiris said.
"The plenary agreed that this whole exercise must be completed before Oct.15 and the final step will be the signing of a memorandum of understanding," he told reporters.
"It was the wish of the public over the years that the two main parties get together and work for the welfare off the people," said Maithripala Sirisena, a government minister.
The parties together control 125 seats in Sri Lanka's 225-member Parliament and their consensus is vital to muster a two-thirds majority to push through any constitutional reforms for minorities.
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam rebels have fought the government since 1983 demanding a separate state for the country's ethnic minority Tamils following decades of discrimination by the majority Sinhalese-dominated state.
More than 66,000 people have been killed in the conflict.
A Norway-brokered cease-fire signed in 2002 has nearly crumbled with renewed fighting killed 1,000 combatants and civilians.