Govt. 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 February, 2002.

Nothing 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 ).

Two 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 ".

The 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.

And 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.

She 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.

No 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.

Why 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.

Imagine 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.

In 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.

The 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 2, Sri Lanka.
Tel: 2326247, 2328889, 2433272-3. Fax: 2423922, 2423258
Editor - editor@sundaytimes.wnl.lk
News - stnews@sundaytimes.wnl.lk
Features - features@sundaytimes.wnl.lk
Financial Times- ft@sundaytimes.wnl.lk
Subs Desk - subdesk@sundaytimes.wnl.lk,
Funday Times - funtimes@wijeya.lk

No. 48, Parkway Building, Park Street, Colombo 2, Sri Lanka
Tel: 0115330330, 0115330808, 0115330808. Fax: 2314864
Email: adve@lankabellnet.com


No. 47, W.A.D. Ramanayake Mawatha, Colombo 2, Sri Lanka.
Tel: 2435454, 2448322, 0114714252. Fax: 2459725

Back to Top  Back to Index  

Copyright © 2001 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd. All rights reserved.
Please send your comments and suggestions on this web site to