Government seeks opposition "guarantees" for peace
[TamilNet, Thursday, 14 October 1999, 13:30 GMT]
The Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunge, in a letter to the leader of the main opposition United National Party, has sought "guarantees" which the President believes are prerequisites for a peace process to settle the island's conflict.
The President was responding to the speech made by the UNP leader, Mr.Ranil Wickremasinghe, recently, at the Foreign Investors' Forum in Colombo, where he called on the government to invite the Liberation Tigers for peace talks to be conducted in consultation with the opposition.
Extracts from the President's letter to the UNP leader follow:
"It would be impossible to move forward meaningfully the peace process, you now propose, without explicit guarantees from the UNP", the President said in her letter.
"If we are to take seriously your new found interest in moving the peace process forward, I must state that both I and the people of this country require guarantees of your sincerity.
"These guarantees should include the following:
"01. The UNP's specific proposals for a solution to the ethnic problem, or,
"02. The UNP's specific views on the entire set of proposals already presented by this government.
"03. A full and honest explanation to the people of this country of the content and purpose of the several discussions your representative the Hon.Dr.Jayalath Jayawardene, Member of Parliament has had with the LTTE leaders in the Wanni, in his many secret meetings with them over the last two years.
"This point is particularly relevant, because your procrastination often bears as uncanny resemblance to the prevarication of the LTTE.
"On the one hand, the UNP tells my government, "First talk with the LTTE, then to us", while the LTTE says, "First talk to the UNP, then to us".
"It has hitherto been doubtful that either condition could be met since neither the UNP or the LTTE have shown any willingness to enter into any serious, meaningful dialogue.
"04. A specific date by which the UNP intends to start discussions and a time frame in which to reach final conclusions.
"On the subject of the ethnic issue, the UNP has never indicated that it has a time frame, let alone a policy.
"I therefore do not intend to waste your time, my government's time, or our people's time simply to enable you and your party to engage in yet another piece of procrastination and chicanery designed to fool the people at election time, instead of seeking a final solution to this country's single most important and urgent issue.
"Let it be remembered by all our people that for every day you procrastinate, another eleven precious Sri Lankan lives are lost" the President's letter said.