The Military Column

2nd June 1996

Arm Jaffna officials with more power

By Our Military Analyst

The LTTE strategy to infiltrate and strike behind enemy lines in the territory recovered by the Sri Lankan security forces is appearing to gather momentum.

There is very little that can be done to thwart such strikes. The opportunities are numerous for the LTTE. The government forces should develop a multipronged strategy to meet the situation.

One of the strongest and enduring methods to consolidate the militarily recovered areas is to politically and economically strengthen those areas. This can only be done, if the bureaucracy, in the Jaffna peninsula is empowered. The Sri Lankan bureaucracy is comparatively week and without a political authority backing them, will be even weaker.

Is there a political solution to the problem of strengthening the bureaucracy in the peninsula? Is legal provision to do so? The answer lies in the existing administrative structure and the constitutional provision to make the administration of the peninsula efficient.

The present administration of the North East Provincial Council under the Governor Gamini Fonseka, the actor-turned-politician, has no proper mechanism to consult the people of the northeast on development add also on their needs and requirements.

A politically based authority is necessary to provide a political leader ship to the bureaucracy. By itself the bureaucracy is not strong enough to be innovative and bold to meet the challenges, they are currently facing in the Jaffna peninsula. Therefore, it is important for the current political and bureaucratic leadership to seriously review the situation and to take remedial steps to establish a political authority in the recently recovered areas.

Currently, the people in the peninsula need action in the realms of relief, resettlement, rehabilitation and reconstruction. This is the primary need of the people. The refugees add the displaced should be rehabilitated and resettled to bring back normalcy to these areas that are at present under the domination of the Sri Lankan military.

To empower the bureaucracy and to cement the link between the administration and the public, a political authority is vital. It is important to establish a political authority in the peninsula at this stage than to establish it after the whole of the north is recovered from the grips of the LTTE.

Such thinking falls within the parameters of sound counter insurgency strategy. The military component of counter insurgency is limited - the non military components are vital for counter insurgency to be successful. In fact, the post-cold war counter insurgency theory that is being developed is for governments to minimise their military efforts and maximise their political and economic efforts.

The establishment of an interim leadership from those appointed to political office during the 1994 election is currently under discussion. The government is also reviewing proposals by the Tamil political parties to establish an interim administrative council.

It has been suggested that the establishment of an interim administrative council will help make decisions to maintain law and order provide leaderships to relief, rehabilitation, resettlement and reconstruction programs the people in resolving their day to day needs, the administrative machinery and political environment for conducting elections fill the vacuum created by the exit of the political leaders.

The current administrative structure in the peninsula is drawn from the government officials of the North East Provincial Council, Capital of Colombo and from the peninsula itself.

After being under LTTE control for nearly a decade, the Jaffna peninsula and most of the north east has not experienced planned development. To galvanize the bureaucracy into action, exploit the innovation essential to meet the challenges of change, and to fulfill the political aspirations of the people, he government must seriously think of developing the long absent political component in the north-east.

It is counter-productive, and in fact futle to wait until the "whole of the north east" is recovered by the Sri Lankan military to establish a political authority in the northeast.

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