CBK wants bigger role
The SLFP led by President Chandrika Kumaratunga has made known its
formal approach to the peace negotiations between the government
and the LTTE, calling for a bigger role for the President in it
and saying it supports the process, but not if it leads to the division
of the country.
In a carefully
worded 12-page statement signed by party secretary Maithripala Sirisena,
the SLFP hit out at the ruling United National Front for sabotaging
peace moves when the PA government was in office. "We will
not indulge in similar destructive policies," the SLFP said
proposing that the rebel LTTE be persuaded to enter the talks on
"core issues" in order that a "lasting solution"
The party has called for a greater role for President Kumaratunga
to play in the Norwegian-brokered peace process which is handled
almost exclusively by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
a standing committee under the joint leadership of President Kumaratunga
and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe " to guide the peace process",
the SLFP said it was opposing talks on the formation of an interim
administration before a final settlement was reached.
Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar, the party's nominee to liaise with
the government and the Norwegians, told The Sunday Times that the
involvement in the peace process should be as broadbased as possible
because it is commonly acknowledged that unless at least the major
political parties find common ground in their negotiating stance
with the LTTE, it is not likely that there could be a durable solution.
He said that
in fact this was what the UNF government and the LTTE said "and
therefore, the SLFP hopes to make it clear it takes the same position,
and for that position to be reached, there should be some mechanism
for bi-partisan discussion".
The opposition statement asked that the ruling UNF recognise the
"pivotal role of the President in the peace process as Head
of State, Head of the Executive and the Government, Head of the
Cabinet, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and leader of the
SLFP and the PA", most of which roles Prime Minister's UNF
was de facto managing.
On the immediate
question of de-banning the LTTE, one of the rebel pre-conditions
for talks, the SLFP said their stance was one that was "practical
and functional", and asked that the ban be lifted only after
The party fell
short of insisting on the ban being maintained, indicating it was
the party's preferred option, only pointing out that the LTTE had
in the past declared its readiness to talk while seizing the opportunity
to do otherwise.
the Prime Minister against adopting what it called a "lax approach"
without safeguards towards the LTTE call for an interim administration
in the north and east saying this "could lead to the creation
of a de facto separate state".
The SLFP said it was opposed to the LTTE designs to run a one-party
administration in the north and east and urged more democracy in
In what was
apparently a watered down version from an original draft slamming
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, the official policy statement
of the SLFP criticised him for signing the ceasefire agreement with
the LTTE without proper consultation either with President Kumaratunga
or others, and went on to make comments about LTTE leader Velupillai
Prabhakaran's April 10 press conference.
said the rebel leader had yet to abandon his goal of a separate
state in the country's north and east, and his concept of a minority
Tamil homeland indicating he had not changed his own position towards
the 20 year civil war he had unleashed costing some 60,000 lives.
In its concluding
paragraph, the SLFP which has 79 seats in the 225-seat Parliament
together with its coalition partners, said it was committed to a
plural society and "is ready to make any sacrifice to achieve
peace in Sri Lanka if the present peace process would ensure the
territorial integrity and sovereignty of a united Sri Lanka".
Political observers here were quick to note the reference to the
words " a united Sri Lanka", which is taken to mean that
the party formed by President Kumaratunga's late father S.W.R.D.
Bandaranaike largely on a pro-majority Sinhalese nationalist line
were prepared to opt out of the "unitary state" status
of the country, possibly into a federal structure that could grant
self-rule to the LTTE.
The SLFP statement
which was approved by President Kumaratunga who is currently huddled
in Nuwara-Eliya in the central highlands holding a two-day seminar
with party leaders, has written a separate letter to Buddhist chief
monks that they could be assured of her support as head of state
to ensure the sovereignty of the island was intact.