"View ISGA as the prelude to reunion"- Uyangoda

[TamilNet, Sunday, 11 July 2004, 01:58 GMT]
"Many UPFA critics have argued that the LTTE's ISGA proposals are a stepping-stone to secession. But, a government that is serious about negotiated peace in Sri Lanka should also be able to see a negotiated ISGA as the prelude to reunion after years of a secessionist war," said Professor Jeyadeva Uyangoda in a political analysis column that appeared in Friday's Daily Mirror, a daily broadsheet published in Colombo.

Unless UPFA takes "new political steps to revive the negotiations, bring the process of violence under effective control and restore the stability of the overall political process," Sri Lanka may relapse into escalated violence, Prof.Uyangoda warned.

Faulting Ms.Kumaratunge's Government of not exploring windows of opportunity in the peace process and viewing with an old mindset LTTE's insistence that ISGA takes priority over core issues in negotiations, Uyangoda asserts that UPFA has often "substituted rhetoric for rigorous analysis."

He observes "the inability of the Sinhalese political class to acknowledge its own leading role in shaping a trajectory of the ethnic conflict in which not the war, but accelerated economic development, can take primacy in the North and East under the LTTE's control and management," as the reason for being embedded in the old mindset.

Prof.Uyangoda recommends that Sri Lanka's President should take two initiatives.

One to "announce that her government is now ready to resume negotiations with the LTTE on an agenda around the LTTE's ISGA proposals in order to explore a negotiated interim settlement to the ethnic conflict," and hope to earn political points not with "positional bargaining with the LTTE," but with her ability to push forward the peace process with "principled negotiations."

Secondly, to integrate the UNP and the opposition in the peace process by not repeating the mistake made by the UNF government. He adds that people are tired of "mutually destructive politics of acrimony between the UPFA and UNP," and a bipartisan institutional process will be constructive for peace.

He says there "still remains a window of opportunity" for Sri Lanka's President to move the peace process forward towards a "constructive compromise," but warned that it will be quite costly to lose this moment.

Prof. Jayadeva Uyangoda is a well regarded political commentator in the Sinhala and English media in Sri Lanka. He was one of the Marxist rebels who led the armed insurrection to capture state power in 1971 and was incarcerated for many years after the rebellion was ruthlessly crushed by Sri Lankan armed forces.

He is a senior academic in the University of Colombo.

 

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