Peace trapped in political chess game- paper

[TamilNet, Thursday, 14 October 2004, 10:50 GMT]
"Leader of Opposition, Ranil Wickremasinghe, has told the Indian leaders that that United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA). should start talks with the LTTE. In earlier times, it was left to the Tamil leaders to undertake missions to bring pressure to bear on the Sri Lanka Governments. Tables have now turned, giving way to the scenario of one main southern Sri Lanka political camp persuading NewDelhi to pressure the other southern camp to start peace negotiations immediately," said Thinakkural, a popular Tamil daily in its editorial Thursday.

"While the situation in Colombo appears not conducive for the UPFA Govt. to start peace talks with the LTTE, Wickramasinghe is in New Delhi briefing the Indian leaders on his Party's stance with regard to the current state of of the peace process. Wickramesinghe has also held discussions with the Norwegian Foreign Minister, Vidar Helgesen who is also currently in New Delhi,

Indian Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, urged at his meeting with Wickramesinghe last Tuesday, immediate recommencement of the peace talks. Dr Singh reiterated India's stand that while the democratic rights of all segments of people should be respected, India welcomed a political solution that preserves the territorial intergrity of Sri Lanka.

A report released by the UNP reveals that both Manmohan Singh and Wickremasinghe agreed that that the present stalemate would not only be a threat to the ceasefire agreement (CFA), but is also fraught with dreadful consequences for the future of Sri Lanka, and both agreed that such an unfortunate scenario is best avoided by immediate recommencement of the peace talks. The UNP report further disclosed both leaders paid special attention to the challenges, obstacles that may arise once peace talks recommence. Wickramasinghe pointed out to Dr Singh that the UNP has fully agreed to support all pece efforts consistent with the Tokyo-Oslo declarations, and that this is the first time that an Opposition party has extended unconditional support to an incumbent Government," the editorial said.

Wickramesinghe then told Manmohan Singh that he is prepared to participate in the National Advisory Council for Peace and Reconciliation (NACPR) inaugurated by President Kumaratunga last week, and that he ready to meet with the President anytime on the question of the peace process.

In the past, it was customary for Govt. spokespeople to frequent New Delhi to brief Indian leaders on the steps taken to resolve the ethnic crisis, but of late even the Opposition side is making its pilgrimage to New Delhi for the same purpose. The measures that Wickremasinghe took earlier as Prime Minister to resolve the ethnic problem were potrayed by President Kumaratunga's emissary, Lakshman Kadirgamar, as a threat to India. Furthermore, the President's brother, Anura Bandaranaike, along with Dr. Sarath Am,unugama and Mangala Samaraweera had occasion to rush to New Delhi to complain to the Indian leaders of the " threat" posed then by the peace proces. Those were clearly anti-peace manouvres.

New Delhi has stated from earlier on that it would support the peace process being taken forward with Norwegian facilitation, but even after the change of Govt. one cannot find any signs of direct involvement. But , both the Sri Lanka polity as well as the International community have fashioned their approach to this question on the assumption that there is no solution to this crisis without the support of India.

Interventions from foreign capitals are of no avail unless a healthy political environment is created in Southern Sri Lanka to start peace talks. But there is no evidence that such a scenario would surface. On the contrary, the situation is only growing from bad to worse.

"Until now both main Sinhala political camps conducted their politics on war, but now they do so on peace. This reflects the height of irresponsibility on their part," the editorial concluded.


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