Lanka ‘Hawker Street’ for foreign experts: Kadir
Presidential Advisor and former foreign Minister Lakshsman Kadirgamar charged in parliament that the ceasefire agreement had eroded the sovereignty of the country to the point where it was in danger of being reduced to a sovereign shell. In his address Mr. Kadirgamar took the government to task for signing a structurally flawed ceasefire agreement with the LTTE without first consulting President Chandrika Kumaratunga.

Opening the debate for the Opposition on a special statement made by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Mr. Kadirgamar said the Opposition also had no confidence in the competence and the impartiality of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission. He said that the powers and functions which the ceasefire agreement vested in the Norwegian government travel beyond the role of a facilitator.

"This is the first time in the history of post independent Sri Lanka that a foreign government has been authorized to draw demarcation lines on the soil of Sri Lanka", Mr. Kadirgamar said.

He also hit out at the SLMM for proposing that the Sea Tigers be recognized as a de facto naval unit. Hitting hard at the government for seeking advice of foreign experts, Mr. Kadirgamar said, " Sri Lanka has become a carnival ground for international players, a sort of hawkers street for foreign experts peddling their wares."
Mr. Kadirgamar said:

"In January 2002 I had the privilege of opening the debate for the Opposition on the Prime Minister's policy statement. On that occasion I said that the Opposition would do nothing to disturb the peace process that was just being resumed. The new Government must have time to settle in. We have kept that pledge. Our contention is that from the very signing of the Ceasefire Agreement on February 22, 2002 the sovereignty of Sri Lanka has been steadily and visibly eroded to the point where Sri Lanka is in danger of being reduced to a nominal sovereign State.

Soon Sri Lanka will be a sovereign shell, the major attributes of a sovereign State - the capacity to govern, to resolve justifiable issues, to enforce the law, to protect its citizens throughout the entirety of its territory are being drained away by stealth, fractured by assault and worn down by attrition. The process commenced, with, and is being facilitated by, the Ceasefire Agreement by itself, a structurally flawed document whose imperfections have now been clearly revealed and are being deeply felt, as the weeks and months go by.

"Within a few days of the signing of the CFA the President outlined in a letter to the Prime Minister some of the flaws of the Agreement. They were as follows: The question of naval operations. Article 1.2 of the CFA itemises a number of prohibited military operations, including offensive naval operations". Article 1.3 graciously permits the Sri Lanka Armed Forces to continue "to perform their legitimate task of safeguarding the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka without engaging in offensive naval operations". How is the Navy to safeguard the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka if it is prohibited from engaging in offensive operations against the LTTE if required?

"Under Article 3.2 of the CFA if a dispute arises on a question involving the interception of illegal arms it will be the Head of the Monitoring Mission, a foreign national, who will be the "the final authority regarding interpretation of the Agreement". Thus, the jurisdiction of the Courts of Sri Lanka has been ousted on a question so vital to national security and the protection of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Sri Lanka.

"Articles 1.4, 1.5 and 1.6 of the CFA deal with the "drawing up of demarcation lines regarding defense localities in all areas of contention". The parties are required to provide information to the Monitoring Mission about their defense localities. In the event of disagreement between the parties the demarcation lines will have to be drawn by the Head of the Monitoring Mission who is "the final authority regarding interpretation of this Agreement". Article 2.7 refers to the establishment of the checkpoints to facilitate the flow of goods, and the movement of civilians on the "lines of control".

"The "line of control" is a highly evocative expression in our region and elsewhere in the world where lines of control and demarcation have been source of confusion, bitterness and tragedy. Inevitably, the line of control becomes a line of division, of separation.

"The powers and function which by this Agreement are vested in the Norwegian Government travel far beyond the role of a facilitator of the envisaged negotiations towards a political agreement. The nature of the Norwegian Government's mandate has changed to such an extent; its role has become so inflated, as to make it incompatible with the sovereign status of Sri Lanka.

"In the light of the verified evidence coming in from various LTTE controlled areas, especially in the East, relating to extortion, intimidation, abduction and harassment of civilians, much of it against members of the Muslim community but extending also to the Tamil and Sinhalese communities in these areas, we surely have to ensure that our people are protected by the strict application of Article 2.1 of the CFA which expressly prohibits such acts.

"The extensive freedom of movement for "political work" in Government-controlled areas in the North and the East granted to LTTE members under Article 1.13 is not afforded to others (political parties, for instance) who might wish to do "political work" in LTTE-controlled areas in the North and the East. Democratic parties like the EPDP, which entered the mainstream of national politics many years ago now find themselves at a considerable disadvantage in relation to the LTTE. Disarmed by the CFA they are at the mercy of the LTTE.

"This erosion of sovereignty to which I have referred must also be viewed against the backdrop of the significant omission in the Agreement of any reference to any assurance given that negotiations for a political settlement will be commenced by the parties by a fixed date and concluded by an agreed date. In his statement to the House in January 2002 the Prime Minister said: "After formalising the basic agreement as regards peace talks, the talks should be held within a definite timeframe between the Government and the LTTE". Nearly fifteen months have passed. Where is the timeframe? It is nowhere in sight.

"The burning issue of the day is the question of the sea. In its so called initial discussion paper the Head of the Nordic Monitoring Mission made a series of proposals which the Opposition parties, in their press release of 25th April, have described as "preposterous". One of them was that "in the spirit of the CFA the government of Sri Lanka, and especially its Navy, should recognise the LTTE Sea Tigers as a de facto naval unit". Another was that "the LTTE should be excluded from the law concerning limitations on the horse power of outboard motors". Yet another was that "the Sri Lanka Navy and the LTTE Sea Tigers should have specific marked exercise and training areas at sea, designed for navigation training and for live fire exercises as well".

"These proposals can be faulted on a number of grounds: Is it "in the spirit of the CFA" that the LTTE should systematically smuggle arms into the country? If not, why should it be "in the spirit of the CFA" that the Navy should recognise the LTTE as a de facto naval unit?

"The real problem is that the government of the day is by its conduct, by its palpable anxiety to accommodate even the most unreasonable demands of the LTTE, encouraging the LTTE to believe that it is a legal entity with legal rights.

"Even if the exercise and live firing areas are within our territorial waters, live firing will create serious practical problems. Indian fishing boats habitually enter our territorial waters in large numbers. What would happen if they enter the LTTE zone during the live firing practice? We allow India to use our airspace above our territorial waters. When LTTE live firing is going on are we to tell the Indian government that our airspace will be closed to them? Would this be an unfriendly, hostile act towards the neighbour that has proscribed the LTTE?

"When the CFA was entered into the LTTE was limited to outboard motors of 40-horse power maximum. The Nordic proposal is that they be allowed the use of outboard motors of unlimited capacity. This will allow the LTTE legitimately to acquire inshore craft, which are used by blue water navies.

"At the end of peace talks some day, even if Federal status is given to the North and East, there will be only one Navy and that is the Sri Lanka Navy. Therefore, excluding the Sea Tigers from the normal law of the country is unacceptable and out of the question.

"The Opposition has already stated, and now repeats, that it has no confidence in the competence and impartiality of the Monitoring Mission. The Opposition proposes that the Monitoring Mission should be re composed.

"The other major security question of the day - the High Security Zones. The LTTE wants the Army to withdraw from these zones to accommodate Internally Displaced Persons (IDP's). Security can be relaxed only in stages i.e. disarming of LTTE cadres and decommissioning of LTTE long-range weapons.

"The government has hired the services of a retired Indian General, Gen. Nambiar to advise it on security matters. In its report of last December he has said that "SLA Commanders in the field as also at headquarters, appear to be unanimous in the firm conviction that if civilians are allowed unrestricted re-entry in these areas, LTTE cadres would infiltrate, establish their control even if only covertly in the initial stages, and seriously compromise the ability of the SLA to conduct operations should the peace process break down.

Therefore, Gen. Nambiar has proposed "as things stand it would appear that any review of the scope and the content of the High Security Zone will only come about if the LTTE deposits its weapons for neutral supervision and initiates measures to withdraw from frontline positions into nominated areas.

"For some mysterious reason the Government Commissioned Gen. Nambiar to prepare a second report even before the first report had been discussed with the relevant security authorities. I understand that the second report is ready. Between the two reports Gen. Nambiar has been visited more than once by important Government personalities.

"Sri Lanka has become a carnival ground for international players, a sort of Hawkers Street for foreign experts peddling their wares. Do we really need foreign experts to advice us on how to protect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the State? Surely, our own Service Commander, native to our soil, knows best what needs to be done.

"The Prime Minister in his statement referred to a "safety-net of the international community". and "a firm expression of views by our friendly countries including the United States, UK, Japan, France and India". They have with the United States and India, in particular made strong statements in support of our territorial integrity and sovereignty.

"In the meantime, the opposition is of the view that we are moving inexorably towards the day when Sri Lanka will no longer be a sovereign state".

Join PM in his peace endeavour says Lokubandara
Replying to the former Foreign Minister Lakshaman Kadirgama's speech in parliament the Leader of the House W. J. Lokubandara said that Mr. Laksman Kadirgamar who was Sri Lanka's former Foreign Minister during his speech criticised the current peace process having forgotten the agreement entered into by President Chandrika Kumaratunga and the LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran in 1995.
Mr. Lokubandara said that though the government had great respect for Mr. Kadirgamar he failed to refer to the facts in the agreement between the then Peoples Alliance government and the LTTE.

"People of your calibre should make responsible speeches. Don't you really want to solve this prolonged conflict? I must mention that Prime Minister Wickremesinghe has always been committed to resolve this conflict. When I listened to Anura Bandaranaike's speech, I remembered how he spoke against the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) in 1988. At that time, he together with JVP wanted to send Indian troops back home. But today he is speaking for India and stressing the need of Indian intervention in settling this problem" he said.

The leader of the House said that the JVP never had a feeling for peace. "A number of times they were responsible for the bloodbaths in the country. I wonder how a party like the SLFP which now has people like Lakshaman Kadirgamar could join hands with the JVP which introduced violence and gun culture to Sri Lanka. The people of this country have not forgotten the misdeeds of the JVP", Mr. Lokubandara said.
He said that the only reason the PA and the JVP asked for this debate was with the idea of setting the country on fire. Mr. Lokubandara said that they never wanted answers for the questions raised by them.

Speaking about the boycott ploy of the PA and the JVP he said "Today they also went away". Concluding his speech the leader of the House, Mr. Lokubandara said he stressed the need for everyone to extend their cooperation and assistance to the Prime Minister in his genuine endeavour to bring lasting peace and harmony to Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka’s sovereignty must be upheld: Wimal Weerawansa
Addressing parliament last week in his response to the Premier's statement Wimal Weerawansa said the people in this country would have bee disappointed having listened to the PM's statement.

Mr. Weerawansa said the Premier never clarified the important issues that have arisen in the country at the present time like the Sea Tiger issue, Muttur clashes and the killing of the army informants.

"What was important according to him is that there is no question of going back to war. How can he say this? Does this mean that he has given a pledge to the LTTE that he will fulfill all their demands? What is the LTTE smuggling weapons and conscripting children if not to return to war?", Wimal Weerawansa asked in parliament.

In his address to parliament he said: "As Parliament was in recess from April 1st till 6th May, we wanted an emergency session summoned in between so that we could discuss the several important developments that took place in the country during this period. But the government did not allow this. However, as a result of this the Prime Minister decided to make a statement to parliament. When people heard the Primer was making a statement, they expected to hear a clear statement on what is happening in the country. But he has not done so.

"On April 3rd, the Norwegians put forward a proposal for the sea tigers to be recognized as a separate unit and give a separate sea enclave for them for their training exercises. The issue of the removal of the high security zones as well as the clashes in Muttur came up at the same time. There was also the killing of army informants as well as members of the EPDP. We expected him to cover all these important issues but what happened? First he explained why the talks were suspended and went on to whitewash the LTTE.

What he said was the LTTE has merely suspended participation in the talks and not withdrawn. What was important according to him is that there is no question of going back to war. "How can he say this? Does this mean that he has given a pledge to the LTTE that he will fulfill all their demands? Why is the LTTE smuggling weapons and conscripting children if not to return to war?

"What is most important for us is the country's sovereignty? This is more important than any other thing including the love for our lives. The most important battle is to maintain the soverignity of this country. All other battles are less important for us. Any leader who does not think this way is capable of anything.

"There are suicide bombers in this government as well. They are the ones who are forced to speak here. When you go through the speakers list you can see them. Only Mr.Hakeem is there from among the negotiators but he is having enough problems of his own. Where is G.L.Peiris and Milinda Moragoda? There must be in their rooms watching what is going on here on their closed circuit TVs. I think the amount they are spending on their foreign trips will soon surpass the country's defense budget. The suicide cadres in the government have to fulfill their obligations on behalf of their colleagues.

"On the sea tiger's issue, the Prime Minister said the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission is addressing the issue. Of course we know they are addressing the issue to fulfill the demands of the Tigers. What we wanted to hear the Prime Minister say was not this. What he should have said is that the government does not recognize the sea tigers and that there is only one navy in this country, the Sri Lankan Navy. He just slipped away from addressing this issue as well.

"After 27 intelligence men were killed, the Prime Minister comes here and says that he has asked the Police and the armed forces to take necessary action to bring to justice the perpetrators of these crimes. I am sure they will act soon now that most of the damage is done.

"He has hardly addressed the problem of the Muslims. The LTTE is involved in ethnic cleansing. They have warned that they will soon chase the Sinhalese away from Kantalai and Serunuwara. Today those who have to reply to these problems are none of those responsible for these subjects.

"The Tigers are conducting the peace talks also with a war-like mentality. In a war you trap the enemy and attack him. Even in the peace talks, the LTTE has trapped the government and cornered them, so they agree to all their demands.

"The team of government negotiators will travel around the world and when things go wrong they will flee the country. But the rest of the people of this country have to live here. There are no talks here. There is only a "dana", a betrayal by the government".

Anura says Premier a leader without vision
Anura Bandaranaike speaking in parliament during the debate on the statement made by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said the statement made by Mr. Wickremesinghe was a major non-event.

In his address Mr. Bandaranaike said: "This is a major debate concerning the security of the country. It is being held in the background of the LTTE suspending its participation in the peace talks, the violent incidents in Muttur, the killing of intelligence personnel by the LTTE and the virtual recognition of the sea tigers as a separate navy by the Norwegians. This government has chosen to avoid this debate being the cowards that they are.

"The statement made by the Prime Minister of this country must be one of the biggest non-events of his life. He merely avoided the debate. He should have been here to wind up the debate. This Prime Minister merely comes and goes like a jack in the box. Where is G.L.Peries, Milinda Moragoda? What about the Deputy leader of the UNP Karu Jayasuriya? They should be here today. Where are the frontbenchers today? They have put the burden on Mr. Lokubandara, a good-hearted, deeply religious man with no dirt on his hands.

"It is the Prime Minister's bounden duty to be here. If he is unable to be present at least G.L.Peiris or Milinda Moragoda who are taking part in the negotiations should have been here. The Prime Minister's statement was a mild attempt to cover up a volatile situation that the government is placed in today. If I may quote Shakespeare from Macbeath "A tale told by an idiot." I don't want to call the Prime Minister an idiot, as he most certainly is not one. So I will paraphrase it as "A tale told by a prime minister, under siege, signifying nothing."

"The LTTE knows what they want and they know how to get it. They talked to Prime Minister Premadasa and then killed him; they talked to my sister President Chandrika Kumaratunga and almost killed her. No other government has gone the distance that this government has. You have caught the Tiger by the tail and you will be swallowed. Many in your front benches are against what is happening but they don't want to say anything, as they don't want to embarrass the government.

In every game the end game is carefully crafted and for the LTTE the end game is Eelam. You are aiding and abetting them in achieving this. Defense Minister Thilak Marapona says there is only one navy. But can he explain to the House how he is going to dismantle the Eelam navy? You are talking of an international safety net. Where was the safety net when the LTTE suspended its participation in the talks? Where were they when ethnic cleansing was taking place in Muttur. Where was this net when the LTTE was smuggling weapons and when they attacked a Chinese trawler killing 15 Chinese nationals. Safety net is a phrase you have put in to get out of a difficult situation.

"What is the federal system you are going to discuss with the LTTE? You are talking of a Swiss model, a South African model and now a Ladakh model. The problem lies in the Prime Minister's lack of vision. We are not against devolution. Even the President has said that. It is the government that has virtually handed over the north and east to the LTTE. During the ceasefire, the LTTE has laid the foundation for a de facto state. Its army has grown from 6,000 to 16,000. There is massive smuggling of weapons. More than 20 Tamil army informants have been killed.

"I must say the Sunday Times is the only newspaper that has had the guts to write the truth. The Prime Minister's media mafia has been influencing the media not to write anything about the Norwegian proposal on the sea tigers. No paper other than the Sunday Times has had the courage to publish the story.

The story is correct because no one has denied it so far. I must compliment the Chairman of Wijeya Newspapers Ranjith Wijewardena for publishing true and correct news items as a real newspaperman in an impartial manner even though he is the uncle of the Prime Minister. I must also commend Sinha Ratnatunga and Sunday Times Defence Correspondent Iqbal Athas for having the courage to run this story.

First time in the world there are two navies in one country, two armies and two judicial systems. The Prime Minister's media mafia is stifling the news so that the government can carry on.

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