seen in many minds
It was only last week that our Political Editor pointed out that
the cacophony of voices from the new UPFA Government was sending
mixed-signals to the LTTE, and the rebel organisation was using
this fact to undermine the fragile Ceasefire that has held since
seems to have changed, though. This very week, after meeting visiting
Norwegian Deputy Foreign Minister Vidar Helgesen, President Chandrika
Kumaratunga was to say that her Government is; " willing and
keen to work to commence negotiations on an interim authority within
the framework of a United State, and to reach a durable solution
to the conflict ". ( President's Office press release ).
days later, this is what the Cabinet spokesman Mangala Samaraweera
has to say; " ... the SLFP as well as the PA has maintained
the Interim Administration in whatever form must be linked to a
final solution ".
question raised here is, why Minister Samaraweera could not repeat
the same words that the President's Office used 48 hours earlier.
Not only did Minister Samaraweera make a distinction between the
Government and the SLFP/PA, by implication leaving out one-third
of the Government, i.e. is the JVP, but left room for interpretation
and argument whether the Government has still made up its mind on
its policy towards the LTTE's demand for interim self-rule as a
sine qua non for the peace process to continue. Clearly, in such
a confusion, it is the words coming from the President's Office
that must be given more weightage.
clearly, the President has now, desperate as she is to stave off
a full-scale break of the Ceasefire, climbed down to saying, in
effect, that she has abandoned her gung-ho attitude prior to November
last year when she used what her SLFP then called were the horrendous
sell-out ISGA proposals, to justify the take-over of the Defence
Ministry, She has not only done that, she has now even abandoned
her amended posture of saying ISGA provided a final solution is
discussed simultaneously. What she has come to now is basically
the UNP's original position, i.e negotiate on LTTE's ISGA proposals
within a United Sri Lanka.
has, this week, decided to move one step away to discuss ISGA without
it being part of the final solution. The words she uses .. "
and to reach a durable solution to the conflict", is not the
same thing as to discuss ISGA simultaneously with a final solution
to the conflict - which would mean a discussion on ISGA is directly
linked to a final solution, a position the LTTE has flatly rejected.
The stark reality is that the President is now willing to bargain
on LTTE's original, un-wavering terms.
doubt, the UNF is sticking to their guns welcoming the move. This
is for the twin-reasons that it is their position to discuss the
ISGA proposals, and by supporting the UPFA Government towards this
stance, they would like to drive a wedge between the PA and the
JVP on this issue. Both sides are forgetting, that it was only in
April this very year, that the people rejected the UNP Government
for agreeing to discuss ISGA on the LTTE's terms. The word 'Federal'
has all too easily slipped into the normal lexicon of political
leaders, and Interim Governments have become a virtual fait accompli
simply because the vacillating Government has waited for the LTTE
to make the first move, and provide the document for debate.
has this new Government have to come to this sorry situation ? Isn't
it because they have made a total hash of things from Day 1. The
way they were caught flat-footed in having to deal with the Karuna
factor is a classic example. They still don’t know how to
handle this hot potato.
a bigger and hotter potato falling on their lap. The LTTE carnival
of opening 'police stations'; 'courts'; and camps, continues unabated.
The Government in Colombo prefers to adopt the policy of what they
don't see, is not happening. The military is in a state of un-preparedness,
except for some training exercises. Readers would have got a graphic
picture of the happenings in and around the crucial Trincomalee
port-city cum naval base if they read our Defence Analyst's on-the-spot
account on the opposite page last week and the situation in the
North, in this weeks report.
the event of all-out hostilities you will see one mad dash to world
capitals to purchase armaments, like in the past, at astronomical
prices because they have to be air-freighted. One can visualise
the arms-dealers smacking their chops, already. The Government,
and the People will necessarily have to brace themselves for any
eventuality. A bomb here and there may be the price one has to pay.
But one must face this bravely.The LTTE is obviously putting into
place psychological warfare tactics seeing that the Colombo Government
has no stomach for war. Nor does it have any idea of what to do
either in negotiating for peace, or going for war.
LTTE, despite being down, is not out because they are capable of
exerting this psy-ops on its enemies. They have the upper hand because
only the likes of the EPDP stand up to them and are counted. The
way the Colombo Government strained every sinew to show it had washed
its hands off the Karuna breakaway faction of the LTTE only egged
them on to keep playing their cards. In Colombo, all that we see
is meaningless jabbering, and even in that, there is no aim, no
target. If the President of the Republic and her official cabinet
spokesman say two different things within 48 hours, just what are
we talking about?
No. 8, Hunupitiya Cross Road, Colombo 2. P.O. Box: 1136, Colombo
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