scoffs at new agenda
Peace facilitator Norway's last minute bid, ahead of the New Year,
to revive peace talks between the UPFA Government and the Liberation
Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is proving to be a difficult, if not
latest impasse came when Norway's Special Envoy Erik Solheim held
talks in London with LTTE chief negotiator and ideologue Anton Balasingham.
Also on hand for the three-hour long meeting was Norway's Ambassador
to Sri Lanka, Hans Brattskar. He flew in from Oslo.
both the UPFA Government and the LTTE sticking categorically to
their respective positions, the Norwegian peace facilitators moved
in to break the deadlock. This was through a draft agenda for talks.
Such a move naturally incorporated discussions over an interim structure.
dealing with this subject, Mr. Solheim is learnt to have explained
the outcome of his talks last week in Colombo with Dr. Jayantha
Dhanapala. The Secretary General of the Sri Lanka Peace Secretariat
had detailed out the Government offer to discuss an interim authority
and elaborated on matters related to it. The positions so enunciated
had led to speculation that the UPFA Government had forwarded a
fresh formula. At most he had only articulated the Government's
stance to offer an interim authority and made some proposals connected
with it verbally.
move to formulate the outlines of a draft agenda is based on endorsements
of both the Government and the LTTE. This came about during talks
Norwegian Foreign Minister Jan Petersen held both with President
Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga in Colombo and LTTE leader Velupillai
Prabhakaran in Kilinochchi. Besides the agenda, the two sides also
called upon Norway to suggest dates and a venue for talks in consultation
Dhanapala said yesterday that media reports giving details of the
so-called proposals were pure speculation. "We know and the
LTTE knows what is there. I will neither confirm nor deny reports
that I had sent any proposals," he told The Sunday Times.
on the telephone from Oslo, Mr. Solheim confirmed to The Sunday
Times that it was Norway that was formulating the draft agenda.
However, he declined to elaborate.
had Mr. Balasingham held talks at his residence in London with the
Norwegian duo and later entertained them to a Chinese lunch, had
speculation mounted over fresh Sri Lankan proposals. This came soon
after Mr. Balasingham transmitted to Wanni a report on his talks
with Messers Solheim and Brattskar. That, of course, included an
elaboration of the Government's offer of an interim authority by
Dr. Dhanapala. But news reports, particularly in the Tamil media,
had already highlighted reports that the government had made fresh
proposals. They were attributed to Mr. Balasingham.
to reports the UPFA leadership received through their own channels,
the remarks of Mr. Balasingham were to cause ripples among the Wanni
leadership. They were angry he had initiated news reports that tended
to raise hopes in the minds of the Tamil people of fresh prospects
for peace talks. It came at a time when the LTTE had launched a
number of moves for a "people's uprising" to win their
demands and were continuing with preparations to resume hostilities.
by the developments, LTTE Political Wing leader S.P. Thamilselvan
summoned representatives of the Jaffna-based Tamil media. It was
for a "discussion" and not a news conference. There he
explained the sequence of events, some "off the record"
and others for publication. His comments on Dr. Dhanapala's proposals
for the Norwegian draft agenda received wide play in the Jaffna
media. In Colombo, Sudar Oli whose sister publication in Jaffna,
Uthayan was represented at the discussion, had the following account
is no definite provision or clarity in the latest agenda put forward
by the Sri Lanka Government for a resumption of peace talks. Therefore,
there is no possibility of the Tigers accepting the agenda….
sources said that the agenda did not contain any definitive provisions,
arrangements or clarity on substantive matters for a resumption
of the talks. The LTTE is insisting that the peace talks should
be held based on the Interim Self Governing Authority. It has been
endorsed by an overwhelming mandate given by the Tamil people at
the last General Elections. However, this matter had not been clearly
dealt with in the agenda proposed by the Government. The agenda
had made reference only to talks on an interim arrangement.
Sri Lanka Government and the President have conflicting approaches
with regard to the interim arrangements. In like manner, the main
opposition United National Party has a different structure. In such
a situation, it appears that the Tigers consider it confusing about
the commencement of talks 'about an interim arrangement' without
definitely referring to the 'talks on the Interim Self Governing
is stated that the structure of the Government's new agenda appears
designed to create confusion by including the Government's plan
for an interim arrangement to it. All this while the President had
insisted that any discussion on an interim arrangement should also
take up a permanent settlement.
is understood that in the current proposal submitted by the Government,
the President has not made it clear that she had dropped this insistence.
Therefore, it is felt that if the talks are started based on the
agenda, there is a possibility that the President may try to append
the matter again.
close to the Tigers say that there is no possibility of the Tigers
closely studying the proposal which contains these and other confusion
and which lacks clarity.
the Tamil media did not report is the note of caution sounded by
Mr Thamilselvan. He said the media should be careful in reporting
stories that wrongly raised hopes of the Tamil people and distracted
them from the liberation struggle.
Friday night the LTTE officially rejected the Government's proposals
incorporated in the Norwegian draft agenda. See Tamilnet web site
report in the box story on this page.
LTTE said "As the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) continues
to declare its vehement opposition to peace talks with the LTTE
based on the Interim Self Governing Authority as proposed by our
organization, the LTTE leadership insists on a clear, coherent,
well defined version of the agenda, without ambiguity and abstruseness."
Friday itself Mr. Solheim is learnt to have conveyed to Peace Secretariat
Secretary General Dr. Dhanapala the response from the LTTE. He had
also later told to Mr. Balasingham in London that the LTTE response
has been delivered.
was not only the LTTE hierarchy in the Wanni whose concerns were
raised by this week's developments. In Colombo the Janatha Vimukthi
Peramuna's (JVP) main policymaking body, the Central Committee,
was also deliberating on the peace process and the LTTE's repeated
demand for ISGA on Wednesday. The lengthy discussion ended with
a detailed statement.
JVP said proposals for an ISGA were in effect plans for a separate
state. After the Central Committee meeting, a statement issued called
upon the Government to take into consideration five points. They
Whatever difficult situation should arise, not to take any steps
to hinder the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Sri Lanka.
The Interim Self Governing Authority (ISGA) proposals forwarded
by the LTTE refuse to accept the territorial integrity and sovereignty
of Sri Lanka and the government should reject any talks based on
The immediate intervention to resume negotiations capable of providing
the national question a lasting solution; that could consider all
proposals aimed at meeting the aspirations of all communities that
could show the dedication to protect Sri Lanka's diversity, human
rights and democracy and that could attend to reconstruction and
humanitarian needs in the North and East is urgently needed.
Should intervene to take all measures to prevent an outbreak of
war in Sri Lanka again, and
To achieve the above objectives, adopt measures to educate the local
and international community.
JVP statement added:
"On December 22, 2004 the JVP Central Command discussed in
depth the working of Sri Lanka's national issue, the peace process.
April 2003, the LTTE withdrew from the peace talks and not the Sri
Lanka Government. At that time the ruling party was the United National
Party. Till the UNP Government lost power in April 2004, they were
unable to get the LTTE to return to peace talks.
October 2003, the LTTE forwarded proposals for an Interim Government.
They called it the Interim Self Governing Authority. These proposals
were completely different to the Oslo declaration announced by the
UNP Government. The LTTE's ISGA proposal disregards Sri Lanka's
sovereignty and territorial integrity. Because of this, any responsible
Government cannot discuss them. The SLFP, the JVP and several political
parties and organizations have stated so.
proposals are plans for a separate state. Even other countries have
said so. According to the agreement signed on January 20, 2004 between
the SLFP and the JVP and the election manifesto of the UPFA, we
have stated that we will hold discussions with the LTTE and other
relevant parties to come to a peaceful settlement for this national
the break up of peace talks during the UNP Government, now the responsibility
of reviving it after discussing with the LTTE and other political
parties has fallen on the UPFA Government. The only hindrance to
resuming peace talks is the LTTE's demand that such talks should
be based on the ISGA proposals.
this situation, the UNP and other anti progressive parties have
got together to make it uncomfortable for the UPFA Government."
The statement says it is after a discussion of this situation that
the JVP had arrived at the five-point decision.
ahead of the dawn of New Year 2005, the positions of the UPFA Government
and the LTTE remain clearly defined. The Government is offering
only an interim administration based on a federal structure within
a united Sri Lanka. The LTTE on the other hand is insisting on an
ISGA and has re-iterated that its position on discussing the matter
is not negotiable.
is in this backdrop that the LTTE has continued to step up its so-called
campaign of "public uprising" and other measures to consolidate
its position. Last week the Wanni leadership rejoiced over The Sunday
Times report (quoting the United News of India news agency) that
the proposed Defence Co-operation Agreement with Sri Lanka will
not be signed.
report said Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had given an assurance
to a pro-LTTE party in the ruling alliance that New Delhi would
not sign any defence agreement with Sri Lanka for the time being
in the interests of Tamils in the island nation. The report added:
Disclosing this to reporters, Marumalatchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhakam
(MDMK) Chairman L. Ganeshan said and added MDMK General Secretary
Vaiko had already spoken to the Prime Minister, the Defence Minister
and Congress Party president on the issue.
Defence Secretary Cyril Herath told media last month, days ahead
of his retirement, that the Defence Co-operation Agreement would
be signed before the end of November. This, however, has not materialised.
No longer Defence Secretary, Mr. Herath was complaining to friends
recently that columnists in The Sunday Times were trying to tell
him how to run his Ministry. He claimed that they did not have their
facts and they were often wrong. But, quite clearly if there were
such inaccuracies the Police Chief turned bureaucrat, the top most
official then handling defence, could easily have raised issue.
Alas, criticism is something not only bureaucrats but those in uniform
seem to detest. What they most welcome is praise and more praise,
no matter who did what. So the media is berated behind the scenes
though openly what is sought is propaganda.
week, Tamil National Alliance (TNA) parliamentarian Mavai Senathirajah
left for Chennai. Besides undergoing medical treatment, he is also
to seek meetings with the leadership of the MDMK including Mr. Vaiko.
This is to thank them both on behalf of the Alliance and the LTTE
for their efforts in ensuring that the Defence Co-operation Agreement
between Colombo and New Delhi is not signed. He is also to explore
possibilities in using the good offices of the Tamil Nadu political
party to persuade the Indian Government to invite a TNA delegation
to visit New Delhi to brief them on developments related to the
intelligence sources say, Sea Tiger movements were specifically
curtailed when Indian Coast Guard vessels visited Colombo for joint
exercises on non-military matters - to control pollution, counter
drug smuggling,and search and rescue operations. These sources said
cadres manning vessels were ordered to keep a safe distance and
avoid any visual contact when the Coast Guard fleet moved Sri Lankan
waters from a Tamil Nadu port.
campaign to pressure the Government to discuss the ISGA proposals
with the LTTE got off on Monday in Chavakachcheri. Military estimated
the crowd turnout at 500 to 600. Protestors carried placards and
shouted slogans demanding the Government to start talks on the ISGA.
TNA parliamentarians N. Raviraj, Pathmini Sithamparanathan and M.K.
Sivajilingam took part in the event together with representatives
of the LTTE. A memorandum addressed to President Kumaratunga and
handed over to the Divisional Secretary of the area, S. Srinivasan,
claimed that the Tamils fear the armed forces were preparing for
second protest campaign was held on Wednesday in Kaithady. The same
slogans were shouted and the demand to negotiate ISGA was repeated.
TNA parliamentarians Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam and Pathmini Sithamparanathan
took part together with Easwaran, the LTTE leader for Thenmaratchi.
new development in military preparations under way this week was
the house-to-house visits by Tiger guerrilla groups responsible
for recruitment. Their targets are students who are now enjoying
December holidays, particularly those who had sat the GCE (OL) examination.
Training activity for selected groups has been somewhat impeded
by heavy rains in the Wanni.
view of the clearly defined positions of both the UPFA Government
and the LTTE, the deadlock remains. How long it will continue in
the wake of campaigns by TNA MPs on the one hand and the JVP on
the other is the the crucial question.
wants “clear, coherent, well-defined agenda”
The Tamilnet website which reported the LTTE's rejection
of Government's proposals for the Norwegian draft agenda for peace
LTTE leadership, in an official response to the fresh agenda proposed
by the Sri Lanka government, has called for a clear, coherent, well
defined agenda for peace talks. The Tamil Tiger leaders have also
expressed their disapproval to the structure and content of the
government's agenda because of its vagueness and ambiguity.“
Anton Balasingham, the LTTE's theoretician and chief negotiator,
conveyed his organisation's official response to Mr Erik Solheim,
Norway's Special Envoy to Sri Lanka today. Mr Solheim presented
the Sri Lanka government's fresh agenda last week to Mr Mr Balasingham
when he met him in London. “
following is the response of the LTTE leadership as conveyed by
Mr Balasingham to the Norwegian Envoy:
"As the Janatha Vimukthi Perumuna (JVP) continues to declare
its vehement opposition to peace talks with the LTTE based on the
Interim Self-Governing Authority as proposed by our organisation,
the LTTE leadership insists on a clear, coherent, well defined version
of the agenda, without ambiguity and abstruseness.
LTTE leadership, having carefully scrutinised the current version
of the agenda as presented by the Sri Lanka government, is displeased
with its structure and contents. Because of the vague and inconsistent
attitude articulated by President Kumaratunga on the ISGA and the
violent opposition expressed by her major ally and coalition partner,
the JVP, the Tamil Tiger leaders insist on a clear, comprehensive
agenda, instead of revising earlier formulations, definitely specifying
that the Interim Self-Governing Authority, as proposed by the LTTE,
shall be the basis for peace negotiations.
convey the position of the LTTE leadership to the Government of
in the Navy
Navy Headquarters has effected a series of top level postings
effective January, next year.
Admiral Sarath Weerasekera, Director General of Naval Operations
will take over as Commander, Eastern Naval Area based in Trincomalee.
Taking over his post as DGNO will be Rear Admiral Daya Dharmapriya,
presently Commander, Northern Naval Area .
Admiral Upali Ranaweera, the present Commander of the Eastern Naval
Area, has been designated Director-General (Services) at Navy Headquarters.
Admiral T.M.N.K.B. Tennekoon, presently commanding officer of naval
base Uttara has been named Commander, Northern Naval Area.
Commodore D. Samarawickrema has been designated as the Commander,
Southern Naval Area based in Boosa, Galle.
P.L.N. Obeysinghe Deputy Area Commander (East).
Commodore D.W.A.S. Dissanayake, currently attached to the Uttara
naval base, has been named the Deputy Area Commander (North).
T.M.J. Mendis, currently attached to the staff of the Comeast in
Trincomalee, has been named Eastern Area deputy commander.
Commodore J.S.K. Kolombage, currently deputy area commander, Trincomalee,
has been designated as Director, Project and Plans.
Commodore M.T.D.J. Dharmasiriwardena, currently on the staff of
Commander, Western Naval Area has been named deputy area commander
of the same region.
S.A.M.J. Perera has been named as Principal Staff Officer at the
Joint Operations Headquarters (JOH) in addition to his duties at
the naval base Parakrama. He succeeds Commodore Tissera Samarasinghe
who leaves for New Delhi for a year long stint at the National Defence
Commodore N.G.D. Tennekoon attached to the Pandukabaya naval base
has been named as Deputy Area Commander of the North Central Command.