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.

And 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.

The principal 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.

The string 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.

Within hours 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 Merril Gunaratne.

Premier Wickremasinghe 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 conference, 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 20)

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.

The Government's 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.

Prime Minister, 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."

This "background 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;
  • safeguard 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 legal challenge.

Mr Wickremesinghe 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."

LTTE Chief 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…"

The strongly 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.

The impasse 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.

The 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.


Policy Level

  1. 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 development.
    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
    (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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. North-East 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.
  5. Special Fund
    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.
    Operational Level
  6. There will be a legal obligation on the State agencies to implement relevant development schemes approved by the Apex Body in accordance with applicable criteria.
  7. 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 Apex Body.
  8. 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.
  9. Administration 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)
  10. 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.
  11. Proposals 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.
  12. Representatives of the LTTE could also be represented at the District and Divisional level "Development Committees" in the North-East.
  13. 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.
  14. 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)

Appendix 1
The Board will consist of the following members selected by the Prime Minister:

  • Chairman
  • 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.

Govt.’s basic document
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:

a. Tamils 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 rights.

d. LTTE wanted India to play a prestigious mediatory role but the Government of India rejected the proposal on account of domestic political compulsions;

e. Though 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 of violations;

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.

While stating 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 Lanka.

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