Truce poses threat to country, President tells Maha Sangha

[TamilNet, Friday, 03 May 2002, 10:55 GMT]
President Chandrika Kumaratunga this week swore to Sri Lanka's powerful Buddhist clergy that she would protect the country’s unity and territorial integrity. In a letter responding to the Maha Sangha's concerns about matters related to the Norwegian peace initiative, Kumaratunga said terms of the indefinite ceasefire signed in February posed a threat to Sri Lanka’s security. She also accused the Sri Lankan government of conspiring to suppress opposition to the peace process.

The President opposed the deproscription of the Liberation Tigers and the notion of an interim administration for the north and east under the LTTE.

"I accept the fact that a serious threat has been imposed on the security of the country through some clauses of the [ceasefire agreement] signed between the United national Front government and the LTTE and many statements made by the LTTE leader," she said, responding to the prelates' appeal, titled "Present national conflict and Maha Sangha."

She further said in her response: "It is my duty as the Head of the State and the Commander in Chief of armed forces to be responsible for the nation's security."

The President pledged her commitment to remain constantly vigilant and to safeguard the sovereignty and integrity of the nation.

The President said she is of the view that extensive public dialogue should be conducted on issues such as not lifting the ban on LTTE, not removing the security forces from the northeast province and the proposed interim administration run by the LTTE.

"Conspiracy is being carried out to prevent any personal opinion reaching the masses. It is part of the conspiracy that prevented the media from publishing the statement by the Maha Sangha to me. The Maha Sangha should understand the situation in this regard," said Kumaratunga.

The President insisted she has not moved away from the position that negotiated political settlement is necessary to find a solution to this problem. The LTTE, however, was not sincere about peace and was determined to create Eelam, Kumaratunga said.

Political analysts said the President’s comments could undermine confidence in the newly elected United National Front (UNF) government, which has made participation in the Norwegian-facilitated peace process a central plank of its policy.

Kumaratunga is bitterly opposed to the indefinite ceasefire between the government and the LTTE and vehemently criticised the truce. But amid intense pressure from the international community which warmly welcomed the agreement, the President tempered her public criticism.

The President’s opposition to the deproscription of the LTTE would be problematic to the UNF government as, with the Liberation Tigers insisting they will not negotiate as outlaws, the matter is a serious impediment to direct negotiations, analysts said.

Furthermore, with both the government and the Tigers agreed in principle to an LTTE-run interim administration that will provide a ‘cooling off’ period before discussions on core issues, the President’s opposition to the notion will hamper the Norwegian facilitated peace initiative, they said.

 

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