SL communities at brink of tragedy- Schaffer

[TamilNet, Saturday, 03 December 2005, 00:34 GMT]
"The international friends of the SriLankan peace process need to proceed with bracing realism and appeal to the most urgent self-interest on both sides. Without a new commitment to a real cease-fire and a serious dialogue, all of Sri Lanka’s communities stand at the brink of tragedy. The inclusiveness Rajapakse has promised could stand him in good stead, but the key quality he will need is leadership," says former US Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Teresita Schaffer.

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In a publication released by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), based in Washington D.C., where Ambassador Schaffer heads the South Asia Program, Ms Schaffer further says: "Posturing for international support is no substitute for getting on with that extremely difficult job."

CSIS MeetingMs Schaffer characterizes the presidential campaign as a polarizing one. Rajapakse had negotiated with two strongly nationalist political parties, JVP, a former insurgent group, and JHU, a party of Buddhist monks which necessitated his jettisoning most of previous government's peace policy, she writes. Ranil Wickremesinghe campaigned for the continuity of peace process launched during his premiership. But the campaign lacked the "fire coming out of SLFP-led camp," Ms Schaffer observes.

She notes that LTTE's "boycott was undoubtedly intended to show the LTTE's power," and that the LTTE argued that the boycott was intended to "clarify Sinhalese population's war like attitudes."

CSIS LogoOn the derailing of tsunami rehabilitation mechanism P-TOMS, Ambassador Schaffer says, "the outgoing government was left with the worst possible outcome: an unfunded and unimplementable arrangement, branded as too generous to the LTTE by the political opposition, and a Supreme Court ruling that confirmed the LTTE’s suspicions that the Sri Lankan polity would never agree to give them meaningful participation in running the country."

She notes: "Most of the [Pirapaharan's] speech was a carefully crafted argument about how Sri Lanka’s Sinhalese politicians had undermined every chance for peace in the past two decades and more. He declared that the LTTE’s participation in the peace process was intended to show the international community that it stood for peace," and says "his unrelenting argument about how both major Sri Lankan parties had failed to keep their promises offers little optimism that a breakthrough is likely."

Noting that "Ethnic question remains the key issue for Sri Lanka's future," she opines that "the outlook is not promising." She warns that "there is no time to waste: violence is already going up, and the LTTE is at least considering whether a military option makes sense."

In concluding she stresses the importance of leadership and that both sides should get on with solving the difficult job without "posturing for international support."


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