should be blamed?
President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga is today facing a situation
akin to what her father faced well-nigh half a century ago in 1956.
Buddhist monks then performed satyagraha in front of S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike's
Rosmead Place residence 'Tintagel', protesting the Bandaranaike-Chelvanayakam
Pact which was a forerunner to federalism.
time though, the President faces much more virulent opposition from
the monks, a symbol of the turn political agitation has taken over
the years. Back then, father Bandaranaike was forced to tear up
the B-C Pact. Daughter Bandaranaike-Kumaratunga it seems, may now
be forced to tear up the JM (Joint Mechanism) or P-TOMS (Post-Tsunami
Operations Management Structure) Agreement
the root of the crisis which has now enveloped the country is President
Kumaratunga's stubborn refusal to take even her own Cabinet, her
coalition partners, nor the Leader of the Opposition into her confidence.
She has kept the JM (P-TOMS) Agreement so close to her chest that
it naturally arouses suspicion all round.
this is what she said in a statement soon after the then Prime Minister
Ranil Wickremesinghe signed the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) with the
LTTE leader in February 2002;
President is of the opinion that the procedures followed with regard
to concluding the MOU, ignoring Constitutional provisions to obtain
Presidential approval, as well as not informing the Cabinet of Ministers
and Parliament is considered improper and undemocratic and also
violative of practices required by the consensual politics of cohabitation
then is she herself doing, people may well ask. Is it a question
of political expediency? The JVP is perfectly justified in its stance
-- if not for anything but that the President's refusal to take
them into her confidence constitutes a rank insult to the coalition
partner whose role in the April elections of last year gave new
life to her lame duck Presidency.
not the JVP infused some life into the Presidency of Chandrika Kumaratunga?
The President would have had to spend the last four years of her
two-term 12-year reign as a spectator merely rubber-stamping what
the Ranil Wickremesinghe administration was implementing, if not
for their role in forming the government.
asked for a mandate on the basis that the Wickremesinghe administration
was yielding too much to the LTTE, that the country's sovereignty
and territorial integrity was at stake -- and that like Vihara Maha
Devi she was coming forward to save the nation from this sell-out.
that is what she -- and her coalition -- received a mandate for.
The question therefore, is, can she go against this resounding mandate.
In other words, does President Kumaratunga have a mandate to do
other than what she said she will do?
neither has she countered the arguments raised by her main coalition
partner the JVP (and now the JHU) about the dangers of implementing
the JM (P-TOMS).
only hint of reason forthcoming from the President's quarter is
that this mechanism will draw the LTTE into a working relationship
with the Government of Sri Lanka and that this, hopefully, would
be the beginning of the end of their 20-year military campaign for
a separate state.
no doubt, has some merit, but is -- in the least -- a political
gamble, and something that the President and her Govenment, are
entitled to consider. But clearly, a very significant arm of her
Govt. is not willing to take that gamble -- and has gone to the
extent of saying that this is tantamount to a sell-out.
JVP's eventual ultimatum to the President this week -- the June
16 deadline to drop the proposal means that the writing is on the
wall for her. She has to now decide between the JM and the continuation
of her coalition Government.
signals the end of the road in what has right along been a stormy
marriage of convenience -- brought about with the sole purpose of
defeating the fledgling UNP administration.
the meantime, both the Government and the LTTE must take equal share
of the blame for squabbling over how to alleviate the suffering
of the people in the North and East, both from the effects of the
tsunami and the two-decade long 'civil war '.
Norwegians too are at fault -- for promoting with this draft proposal
completely ignoring the sentiments of the JVP and the JHU and those
ineptness of successive Govenments to checkmate the LTTE, and the
LTTE's own intransigence -- given oxygen by the international community
-- with their duplicitous attitudes to the global war on terror
-- has seen this country stagnate while others around it are forging
ahead -- full steam -- with economic development and upliftment
of the living standards of their citizens, irrespective of race,
religion, caste or creed.