COLOMBO, Sri Lanka, June 24 (UPI) -- The Sri Lankan government has signed a controversial agreement with Tamil Tiger rebels to jointly distribute nearly $3 billion in tsunami aid.
Norwegian peace-brokers have taken the document to the northern rebel-held city of Kilinochchi for the Tigers' signature, after which the deal will officially take effect, the BBC reported Friday.
The Tsunami Joint Mechanism was designed to ensure equal distribution of aid to all parts of the country hit by December's tsunami, including rebel-held areas.
The deal is bitterly opposed by the People's Liberation Front, or JVP, which pulled out of Sri Lanka's ruling coalition in protest. The nationalist party claims the deal would support the Tamil Tigers' efforts to create an independent state.
The party's withdrawal means Sri Lanka's President Chandrika Kumaratunga now leads a minority government.
Sri Lanka's Muslims also oppose the deal because they were not made a signatory to the agreement.
Violent protests in the capital, Colombo, have caused security to be stepped up.
Kumaratunga has strongly backed the aid deal, saying it could help jump-start stalled peace talks with the rebels, last held two years ago.