Road map to peace in Lanka facing LTTE barriers
Last Wednesday, the United National Front (UNF) Government placed
a seven page draft agreement before the Liberation Tigers of Tamil
Eelam (LTTE) "regarding administrative and financing
arrangements to expedite efficient implementation of programmes
relating to relief, rehabilitation and developments in the north-east."
Just 48 hours later, on Friday, the LTTE rejected it as unacceptable.
now, with only six days to go for the aid donor meeting in Tokyo,
it is becoming abundantly clear they will not attend the event.
But the UNF Government is not giving up its efforts. A further response
is likely. If Friday's bad news was cause for a sombre mood in the
UNF leadership, there was more to add to it.
architect of the meeting, Japan's Special Envoy Yasushi Akashi told
The Sunday Times in an interview in Tokyo on Wednesday that pledges
at the aid donor meeting "will be conditional to the success
of the peace process." In other words, the inflow of aid would
hinge on the future progress in peace negotiations. His interview
appears on the front page today.
of developments came in a week riddled with suspense over the aid
donor meeting in Tokyo on June 8 and the resultant stalemate leading
to anxiety over the future of the peace talks.
of the LTTE's rejection of his latest proposals on Friday, Prime
Minister, Ranil Wickremasinghe, presided over a conference of the
Commanders of Army (Lt. Gen. Lionel Balagalle), Navy (Vice Admiral
Daya Sandagiri) and Air Force (Air Marshal Donald Perera). Also
present at "Temple Trees" were Defence Minister Tilak
Marapana, Defence Secretary Austin Fernando and Defence Adviser
made clear his UNF Government would keep the dialogue going with
the LTTE. Defence Minister, Marapana, who was still hopeful the
Tiger guerrillas would attend the Tokyo aid meeting advised the
Security Forces to act with caution and not be provoked by any LTTE
actions. This was after at least one service chief pointed out that
some of the recent guerrilla actions were highly provocative.
The Sunday Times learnt, reviewed the
prevailing security situation and the need to enhance the preparedness
of troops - a woeful inadequacy that has been repeatedly highlighted
in these columns. Some measures, which had to be carried out devoid
of much publicity, were evolved. Though too late, they came as an
acknowledgement that military preparedness was still essential.
It was the Navy
Commander, Vice Admiral Sandagiri, who raised issue over a major
impediment placed on his men protecting the territorial waters of
the nation, particularly those off the north and east. The Government
had withdrawn the restrictions placed on the use of outboard motors
in the north-eastern seas. Both fishermen and Sea Tigers were now
free to use boats with unlimited horsepower. This follows a gazette
notification issued by Defence Minister Marapana on May 13.
Until that day,
only the use of a maximum 50 horsepower outboard motors were allowed
for those operating boats in the north-eastern seas. This restriction
was in view Tiger guerrillas using outboard motors with excessive
horsepower to escape Navy patrols when moving men and material.
This was particularly during runs across the Palk Straits to points
in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Hence, the new move
is likely to cause concerns for India too.
It was only
on April 3, the Head of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM),
retired Norwegian Major General Tryggve Tellefsen, proposed, among
other matters, that the Government "should recognize
the LTTE Sea Tigers as a de facto naval unit and the LTTE should
be excluded from the law concerning limitations on outboard motors
(OBMs) horsepower." (Situation Report - April
The Sri Lanka
Navy was strongly opposed to the lifting of restrictions since the
move would help Sea Tigers to operate boats of various sizes with
unlimited horsepower without legal restrictions - a measure that
would immensely enrich its naval capability. The Sunday
Times learnt that the restriction had been relaxed
through a gazette notification without any prior consultation with
the Navy. Hence, Vice Admiral Sandagiri had made use of the first
available opportunity - last Friday's conference - to raise issue
at the highest level. He is learnt to have enumerated the difficulties
the Navy would have to face as a result of this surprise move. And
now, there is re-thinking on the part of the Ministry of Defence
to re-impose the ban.
new seven page draft agreement (see full text on below)
came as a fresh response to demands by Tiger guerrilla leader, Velupillai
Prabhakaran to "establish an interim administrative structure
with adequate powers to undertake North-eastern reconstruction."
Earlier proposals, spelt out in three separate documents - A Draft
Agreement (between GOSL and the LTTE), an informal paper on 'Elements
of a Strengthened and Expanded Mechanism for Reconstruction and
Development of the North and East," and a letter suggesting
the use of locally elected bodies as a basis for development activities
were also rejected by the LTTE. (Situation Report
- May 25).
In a bid to
obtain an early response and clarify any issues raised by LTTE leaders,
Norwegian Special Envoy, Erik Solheim, who was in Colombo early
this week, had wanted to carry the Government's latest draft agreement
to Wanni. However, The Sunday Times learnt
that the guerrilla leaders had wanted the document to be sent to
them for study and response. It was carried in a Sri Lanka Air Force
helicopter on Wednesday by Norwegian Embassy's Tomas Stangeland.
Ranil Wickremasinghe, had addressed his latest Note setting out
the Government's new draft agreement to Norwegian Foreign Minister,
Jan Peterson. In the letter dated May 27, (in response to the latter's
dated May 23), he has also enclosed what he calls "a
statement containing some background information for use in the
discussions your team will be having with the LTTE."
information" (See full text on below)
refers to comments made by LTTE Chief Negotiator, Anton Balasingham,
during private discussions and interviews about LTTE's commitment
to a negotiated settlement.
Premier Wickremasinghe has told Mr Peterson that the administrative
structure he has proposed would achieve the following objectives:
- to be efficient,
transparent and accountable;
the interests of all communities in the North-East;
- enable the
LTTE to play a significant role;
- not be in
conflict with the laws of Sri Lanka which could result in a successful
notes: "Mr Balasingham's letter to State Secretary
Helgesen also refers to an abstractly formulated "road map"
of an envisaged federal solution. Our position is that while the
"road map" will have to be discussed concurrently with
the rest of the issues we will be discussing in the Peace Process,
the "road map" itself will not be a part of this Note
which is limited to administrative structures and financing arrangements."
In the seven
page new draft agreement, Premier Wickremesinghe has proposed a
representative Apex Body (Council) for decision making in regard
to all immediate and medium term rehabilitation, reconstruction
and development work in the North-East and advising on policy development.
He has said that this Apex Body (see chart of proposed mechanism)
shall be an interim measure pending negotiations and final agreement.
The document does not make any references to an "interim administration."
Negotiator, Anton Balasingham, who responded to Premier Wickremasinghe
on Friday, says "we are surprised, and at the same
time, dismayed that your government did not address the critical
issue of setting up an interim administrative structure for the
northeast as suggested by the LTTE leadership. Instead, you have
proposed a development oriented structure with extremely limited
administrative powers in which the participatory role of the LTTE
is not clearly defined, or rather, left deliberately ambiguous…"
worded letter has also chided the Government over "soliciting
not only aid but the setting-up of a grand international 'safety
net' to bring undue pressure on the freedom of our people to determine
their political status and destiny." Mr. Balasingham's letter,
the full text of which appeared in the Tamilnet website on Friday,
is published on Page 17 today.
in the position between the UNF Government and the LTTE is basically
for the administrative control of the north and east. The guerrillas
demand is for a structure outside the administrative control of
the Government. The latter's position is that any structure must
be within the frame-work of the constitution, laws of the land and
overall administrative mechanisms.
For the UNF
Government to concede anything else would be in conflict with the
constitution of the country. Here lies the crux of the matter.
UNF Govt. proposals that LTTE rejected
Here is the full text of the United National Front Government's
latest proposals, rejected by the LTTE on Friday.
AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE GOVERNMENT OF SRI LANKA (GOSL) AND THE LIBERATION
TIGERS OF TAMIL EELAM (LTTE) REGARDING ADMINISTRATIVE AND FINANCING
ARRANGEMENTS TO EXPEDITE EFFICIENT IMPLEMENTATION OF PROGRAMMES
AND PROJECTS RELATING TO RELIEF, REHABIITATION AND DEVELOPMENT IN
- There shall
be a representative Apex Body (Council) for decision making in
regard to all immediate and medium term rehabilitation, reconstruction
and development work in the North-East and advising on policy
The Apex Body shall be an interim measure pending negotiations
and final agreement as per the principles for a political settlement
reached in Oslo in December 2002, which provides for internal
self determination in areas of historical habitation of Tamil
speaking people based on a federal structure within a united Sri
Lanka on the basis that the solution is acceptable to all communities
and ensuring the legitimate rights and interest of the ethnic
groups constituting the north-east.
The Apex Body shall be a policy advisory and review board and
carry responsibility for planning, prioritising and monitoring
of the implementation of Programmes and Projects undertaken in
(The terms "rehabilitation, reconstruction and development"
will include relief, rehabilitation, resettlement, reconciliation,
humanitarian mine action, and development activities such as reconstruction
of roads, production infrastructure, health facilities, schools
and similar matters supporting the return of IDPs)
The Apex Body shall ensure that various implementing agencies
do not work at cross-purposes and impede the efficient utilization
of relief and development funds.
- The Apex
Body shall be constituted in a manner that it reflects the ethnic
composition in the North-East and comprises members who are truly
representative of the ethnic groups constituting the north- east.
In doing so, provisions will be included to safeguard the legitimate
interests of the Muslims and Sinhalese of the North- East.
The functions and powers of the Apex Body would include appropriate
authority for the formulation and approval of plans schemes, programmes
and projects for reconstruction and development of the North-East
and progress review. It shall examine such plans and schemes,
allocate funds and release funds for the implementation of the
same to State agencies, non- governmental organizations including
Tamil Relief Organizations and the private sector. The Apex Body
shall ensure the appropriate distribution of resources, having
regard to ethnic representation in the North-East to adequately
safeguard the legitimate concerns of the Muslims and the Sinhalese
in the North-East. Procedures,including the function of decision
making of the Apex Body will be worked out by the Parties in consultation
with other stakeholders.
- The Apex
Body will direct the use of all funds derived from the Government
and the Donors that would be utilised by the State Agencies, NGOs
(including TRO) international agencies and the private sector
for undertaking rehabilitation, reconstruction and development
projects, schemes and programmes.
Rehabilitation Fund (NERF)
The Government of Sri Lanka, the LTTE and the Facilitator will
actively encourage all Donors to contribute through the NERF.
The Government will provide funding through the NERF whenever
practical. Utilisation or resources from the NERF will be directly
determined and supervised by the Apex Body.
There shall be created a Special Fund for the North-East, dedicated
for North-East reconstruction, rehabilitation and development
in respect of aid, principally loans but also grants. The Special
Fund will be an accounting mechanism to monitor all resources
for the North-East that are not channelled through the NERF and
any Government Funds that are not channelled through the NERF.
This accounting mechanism will monitor resources allocated by
the Government of Sri Lanka and resources from the Donors other
than those given to NERF. The purpose of the Special Fund will
be to ensure that the Apex Body can direct and supervise the utilisation
of all resources to the North-East, including loans and other
funds which cannot be channelled through the NERF.
- There will
be a legal obligation on the State agencies to implement relevant
development schemes approved by the Apex Body in accordance with
- The GOSL
in consultation with the LTTE shall appoint a Special Commissioner.
The Special Commissioner will be constituted with adequate authority
and legal status to ensure rapid implementation by the State agencies
of all development activities that are approved by the Apex Body.
The Special Commissioner will be a non-voting member of the Apex
Body who will report and be responsible to the Apex Body on the
implementation of its decisions, clarify issues, prepare and provide
reports on the status of the Funds and present proposals to the
- The Special
Commissioner shall have authority to supervise the implementation
by any State Agency of the plans, programmes and projects that
are agreed upon by the Apex Body.
(Such as those indicated in the Needs Assessment)
The Special Commissioner shall be assisted by a Secretariat. The
Secretariat shall comprise of specially selected persons with
proven skills in planning, management and execution of projects.
The Special Commissioner will secure the services of professional
staff including Project Managers from both within and outside
the public service including the recruitment of expatriates.
of the North-East is the responsibility both of the North-East
Provincial Council and the Central Government. Therefore a Board
to coordinate the administration of the North- East will be set
up. This Board will act as an interface with the Apex Body. The
Board will be a support mechanism to ensure the effective management
and speedy implementation of the decision of the Apex Body. It
will have the power to issue directions to all State agencies
in order to expedite work and effect efficient delivery of services
and programmes. The Board will also ensure capacity building of
the administrative agencies in the North-East, and their ability
to function effectively to implement the approved plans and programmes
of the Apex Body. The Special Commissioner will be the Chief Administrative
Officer of the Board. The powers of the Board will be delegated
to the Special Commissioner, when required.
(See Appendix 1 for further details of composition and functions
of the Board)
- The implementing
agencies for rehabilitation, reconstruction and development work
will be State Agencies, Local Authorities, TRO/TRO Agencies, NGOs
and the Private Sector and where appropriate, International Agencies.
The Organisational structures set-up by the North East Community
Organisation Restoration and Development (NECORD), North-East
Irrigated Agriculture Project (NEIAP), North-East Emergency Reconstruction
Project (NEERP) and "Triple R" would also come under
the purview of the Special Commissioner. Local level agencies
of the State would be provided with the requisite delegated authority
to carry out their assigned tasks.
for rehabilitation, reconstruction and development could be submitted
by all stakeholders to the Apex Body. This would include in particular
the Development Committees referred to in paragraph 13 below.
of the LTTE could also be represented at the District and Divisional
level "Development Committees" in the North-East.
- Donor CoordinationSubject
to the agreement of the Donor Community there would be a consultative
Committee of Donors (CCD) which will meet on a quarterly basis
to review progress on implementation and utilisation, including
the distribution of such utilisation according to communities.
- While the
above proposals on structures and mechanism relate to rehabilitation,
reconstruction and development activities, the Parties agree that
humanitarian relief and human rights protection activities remain
a priority and need to be carried out in accordance with international
norms. (For Schematic representation of relationships described
above, please refer to Appendix 2 - see chart)
The Board will consist of the following members selected by the
- Three Public
Officers, at the level of Secretary/ Senior Public Officer chosen
for their efficiency.
- Chief Secretary
of the NEPC (Ex Officio)
- The Special
Commissioner (Chief Administrative Officer)
- Three other
persons with proven skills in planning and project management.
The appointments will be made in consultation with the LTTE.
The UNF Government has made available to Norwegian facilitators
a "statement containing some background information for use
in discussions" they will be having with the LTTE. Here is
the full text:
In private discussions and interviews (Oslo, November 25th 2002),
Anton Balasingham made the following comments:
were aspiring only for regional autonomy based on the concept
of internal self-determination as enunciated in the UN charter
and not looking for a sovereign independent Eelam at this juncture.
"Internal Self Determination" means that a nation of
people have a right to regional autonomy or self government in
the areas where they live;
b. Only in
the event of rejection of the above demand by GOSL, the LTTE would
go for external self determination and secession
c. LTTE was
committed to a negotiated settlement leading to regional autonomy
and self rule and recourse to violence would be necessary only
if the Sinhala population denied the Tamil basic freedoms and
d. LTTE wanted
India to play a prestigious mediatory role but the Government
of India rejected the proposal on account of domestic political
India did not attend the Donors' Conference (Oslo, November 25th
2002) it was supportive of the peace process;
f. LTTE wanted
to develop good neighbourly relations with India;
g. LTTE was
evolving its own political and administrative machinery and has
established law and order system in all areas controlled by it
to prevent anarchy and criminal activity;
h. There had
been few instances of violation of the Ceasefire Agreement but
no major confrontations. The LTTE leadership was determined to
see that peace was practiced and it would not tolerate any form
i. The right
of residence is a right of every citizen. The displaced Sinhalese
and Muslim people also have the right to come back to their villages
(in Jaffna and LTTE held areas) which they were forced to flee;
j. LTTE is
the sole representative of the Tamil people; and
k. In the
new framework, LTTE would allow all political parties to contest.
In a statement
(on November 29th, 2002) to Parliament on the Oslo Peace Support
Conference (November 25th) Prime Minister Ranil Wickeremesinghe
informed the House that the Conference pledged its whole hearted
support to the Peace Process, besides committing financial aid for
the reconstruction of the war ravaged regions. Prime Minister Wickremesinghe
stated that the LTTE's affirmation to the international community
of its commitment to find a negotiated political solution to the
ethnic conflict was a significant achievement for his Government.
that his Government was happy with the progress achieved so far
in the Peace Talks, Prime Minister Wickremasinghe emphasised the
importance of following a step-by-step approach. Commenting on LTTE
leader Prabhakaran's annual Heroes Day (November 27th 2002) speech,
Prime Minister Wickremesinghe noted that the positions of both the
parties were no longer incompatible.
He added that
Prabhakaran's speech and LTTE Chief Negotiator Anton Balasingham's
recent statements indicated that the LTTE was no longer pursuing
the idea of a separate state but would be content to consider substantial
power sharing arrangements within the framework of a united Sri