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Sri Lankan president rules out autonomy for Tamils in north, offers 'equal rights' to all

Sri Lanka's president has ruled out allowing minority Tamils greater political autonomy as a solution to a decades-long ethnic conflict that has killed tens of thousands of people.

In his independence day speech Monday, President Mahinda Rajapaksa promised "equal rights to all communities" as a practical way to bring about ethnic harmony.

Rajapaksa is under international pressure to keep his promise to give greater power to the ethnic Tamil majority in the north after he defeated separatist Tamil Tiger rebels in the country's quarter-century civil war. According to a United Nations estimate, 80,000 to 100,000 people were killed during the war, but other reports suggest it could be much higher.

Rajapaksa has long promised the United Nations and other countries that he would offer power sharing as an alternative to secession.