says 'we are the peacemakers, look at our (draft) constitution'
By our Political Editor
The opposition is by and large both opposing and hedging
its bets with the current peace thrust of the UNF.
A SLFP document
proceeded to take on the UNF government on several fronts with regard
to the peace moves, starting from Prabhakaran's Heroes' Day speech.
First was on
the homeland issue. The SLFP quoted Prabhakaran verbatim from his
heroes' day address, as follows:
of questions arise from the sentiments expressed in Mr. Pirapaharan's
speech and the Oslo statement. These questions have to be asked,
and the people are entitled to receive answers from the UNF government
and the LTTE.
"political status" mean? What, indeed, does " self-determination"
mean? What is "complete self-rule?" We have to ask: who
are these "outsiders" that Mr.Pirapaharan referred to?
- are they the Sinhala and Muslim people who have lived in the North
and East from time immemorial; are they the residents of the other
parts of Sri Lanka who are being told not to interfere in the Tamil
homeland? Is the homeland to be an exclusive preserve for some,
not open to all the people of Sri Lanka?
to outsiders is from Prabhakaran's reference in the speech to 'interference',
when he says "The Tamil people aspire to live in the traditional
homeland where they have been living without interference from outsiders."
The SLFP then
takes on the Federal idea, and proceeds to demolish that too. The
gravaean as it were of the SLFP's take on the federal option is
that what is in the offing is not a federal solution but a separate
state -- and that the Prabhakaran Balasingham duo have simply found
an easier way of getting there. Does the UNF government know
where it is going? Does it know the destination? And when we reach
the destination what will we find-and so-called federal state with
a standing Army, a standing Navy, a permanent administration, an
independent judicial system, a tax structure, a banking system-
what would this mean other than a separate state by a friendlier
name? The SLFP statement asks.
The SLFP also
made it clear that being left out of the loop is not something that
it will take kindly to. The SLFP makes no bones about its resentment
at having to 'make a decision' only when the matter comes to the
House for a two thirds majority. We were informed that a solution
would be brought to the House and a 2/3rds majority sought only
then. Will the Opposition have a chance of participating in the
As Mr Kadigarmar
has been saying repeatedly, the SLFP statement ends with a condition
which is that there can be no ' federal' solution without a concomitant
pledge on the part of the LTTE to lay down arms. This is made clear
in one paragraph in the latter part of the statement.
calls upon the government to insist that talks regarding the decommissioning
of arms by the LTTE commence and proceed in parallel with other
negotiations and not be delayed until after a final agreement is
signed. The examples of Northern Ireland and El. Salvador should
The SLFP then
scores its own points by saying that the solution lies in the constitutional
principles that were presented by it in the year 2000. It is stated,
emphatically as follows that this draft needs to be followed as
a basis for a solution:
set out clear solutions, acceptable to all communities, for the
resolution of the core issues of the ethnic question. These drafts
were formulated after thorough discussions and agreement with all
parliamentary representatives of the Tamil, Muslim and Sinhala peoples.
Only the UNP withheld approval. The confusion that seems to reign
at present regarding the possible political and constitutional alternatives
to Eelam may be cleared if these proposals are closely studied.
This SLFP statement
can now be compared and contrasted with the one issued by the Lanka
Sama Samaja Party (LSSP) the constituent member of the People's
seems to take head-on the SLFP's attitude to the Prabhakran Heroes'
Day speech. Any negative attitude in the speech should not be
allowed to interfere with the peace process, it is said. What is
important to realise is that not Prabhakran himself could with impunity
sabotage the peace process even if it his intention.
The LSSP statement
then makes a point that any anxiety arising post - Oslo can be laid
to rest because the concept of internal self determination is in
itself self limiting. Citing the Supreme Court of Canada judgement,
the LSSP document states: "The various international documents
that support the existence of a people's right to self determination,
also contains parallel statements supportive of the conclusion that
the exercise of such rights must be sufficiently limited to prevent
threats to an existing states territorial integrity or the stability
of relations between sovereign states.''
On other points
the LSSP does not call for a decommissioning of weapons but states
at the end of its communiqué that 'preconditions for negotiations
are not helpful' -- but states the 'process' of peace can be made
meaningful only if the LTTE is progressively and effectively weaned
away from terrorism.
in the LSSP and SLFP positions lies mainly in the fact that the
SLFP sees certain LTTE positions as being incompatible with the
peace process, while the LSSP sees that there is room for the LTTE
to work within the peace process, while improving its record in
adds: The LSSP urges the LTTE that it is necessary to clean up
its act in the North East if it wishes to gain credibility for its
protestations on the nature of its political objectives and related
activity in the region. The UTHR Jaffna shows it in a very poor
light as concerned respect for democratic and human rights. The
political thuggery that it encourages against the EPDP cannot be
condoned in a democratic society. It is the responsibility of the
government of Sri Lanka, and the Sri Lanka monitoring mission to
ensure that the LTTE cannot either by itself or by proxy interfere
with the democratic rights of other parties both in the North and
There is at
least one point at which the LSSP and the SLFP positions concur,
and this is that the 2000 constitutional draft projected the PA
positions on the current peace process and its positions on the
unity of the Sri Lankan nation.
Mr Batty Weerakoon
has also said that he did not sign the previous statement issued
by the People's Alliance in November, and has made it clear that
hereinafter, he will not sign any statements as member of the People's
Alliance bearing in mind the different positions of the two parties,
the SLFP and the LSSP, on the peace process. His strongest salvo
was reserved for the Kadirgamar call to lay down arms. He said Kadrigamar
'does not represent the voice of the People's Alliance.' Mr. Batty
Weerakoon, totally distanced the LSSP from the announcement made
by Mr.Lakshman Kadirgamar, who is seen as the fremost advisor to
party calls for united Sri Lanka
While fairly screaming for a united Sri Lanka in its
statement ( at least the SLFP statement) the opposition People's
Alliance could not preserve the unity within its own coalition
in any way. This seemed to be the bitterest week in the winter
of their discontent.
faction of the SLFP accused the leader of the Opposition Mahinda
Rajapakse of plotting the assassination of the party leader
Chandrika Kumartunga, and matters have indeed led to a CID
investigation, ordered by the President to determine the veracity
of these assassination threats.
was also the case of the President's order that the Dinakara,
the party newspaper' office and press be sealed shut due to
various difficulties that also involve a financial scandal.
was not as if there weren't any areas in which the PA could
feel upbeat. The PA insiders were feeling a little heady about
the feeble noises that were being made by Minister G. L. Peiris.
Peiris who has been shouting from any given rooftop in the
past year calling the President an obstinate obstacle that
needs to be removed, suddenly changed course last week and
called for accommodation with the PA President and said that
her support is necessary.
call had the President in a good mood, and by week's end her
party cadre had regained enough stamina despite the internal
dissension that seemed to be splitting it down the middle,
to ask the UNF to produce the LTTE application for a licence
for a radio station. Such a licence is an imperative, the
strategy of the People's Alliance was to call Ranil Wikremesinghe's
peace strategy a bluff, and then say on top of that that he
has neglected the poor.
has -- on the second front - - been painted as a Christmas
grinch by the PA. There has been a full frontal attack by
several PA frontbenchers who have said at various public venues
that the UNF has systematically taken away the safety net
that is meant to cushion the poor from economic malaise.
measures such as Samurdhi continue to be slashed, and this
is the worst sign that the UNF is insensitive to the plight
of the poor, according to the PA frontline.
is also seeking to undermine UNF rule by making sure that
development and infrastructure building which has been pushed
into the backburner by a peace - possessed government will
be taken over by some of the PA controlled provincial councils.
If such undermining of the UNF is properly carried out , Mahinda
Rajapakse has said ' it will be a matter of time before a
PA government is formed.''