Feature Article

Building Tamil Eelam State: Kristian Stokke

[TamilNet, Saturday, 25 February 2006, 10:54 GMT]
"Sri Lanka’s third Eelam War created a political-territorial division of the island with a resultant dual state structure in the North-East. In the context of the 2002 Ceasefire Agreement and based on earlier institutional experiments, the LTTE is currently engaged in a comprehensive process of state building within the areas they control," says Prof Stokke of Department of Sociology and Human Geography, University of Oslo, in an article which examines the emerging new Tamileelam state structure. He adds that only the "facilitation and dynamics of pro-democracy forces within the LTTE," will determine the transformation from "the"strong and centralized state," that currently exists.

PDF IconBuilding the Tamil Eelam State: Full Article

"Within the areas they control, LTTE runs a de facto state administration, which includes revenue collection, police and judiciary as well as public services and economic development initiatives. This political-territorial division means that Sri Lanka has a de facto dual state structure with LTTE also exercising considerable influence on state institutions and officials in the government-controlled parts of the North-East provine, write Prof Stokke.

Prof Kristian Stokke
Prof Kristian Stokke
On the prospects of democracy in NorthEast, Sokke says, "While the operation of the new state institutions is circumscribed by the unresolved conflict, this combination of autonomy and embeddedness give the emerging state a substantial degree of administrative capacity. This may provide an institutional basis for a more democratic relationship between the LTTE and citizens in North-East Sri Lanka."

Stokke quotes Prof Uyangoda, Head of Political Science Colombo University on the need to address long term transformation during conflict resolution process, "Scholars within the conflict transformation approach acknowledge the centrality of formal peace processes but argue that the conflict resolution school focuses too narrowly on elite negotiations and peace pacts, calling instead for attention to the broad and long-term transformation of grievances, forces and strategies."

Pointing out that "functional state failure, i.e. the inability of the state to fulfil its security, welfare and representation fuctions, is at the core of the conflict and also the attempt to build a new state apparatus in the North- East, Stokke writes, "The state building project of the LTTE is also closely linked to their political project of representing the Tamil nation and delivering self-determination for the Tamil nation...The political background for the creation of the Tamil Eelam judicial system was the experienced failure of the Sri Lankan Constitution to provide a functioning framework for realisation of minority rights and aspirations, combined with the subversion of Rule of Law by the Prevention of Terrorism Act and protracted warfare."

"Social welfare is the other state function that has been given a central place in the building of the LTTE state, although in a subordinate role to that of maintaining external and internal security through military, police and judicial me," Stokke says on LTTE's approach to the supporting the welfare of Tamil people, and on development he adds, "The development work of the LTTE after the 2002 Ceasefire Agreement has focused on the development of institutional capacity to address relief and rehabilitation needs and, not the least, the need for coordination of development initiatives."

Stokke also details the contribution of Tamils Rehabilitation Organization (TRO) and the Economic Consultancy House (TECH) in the evolving Tamil eelam state.

Stokke concludes: "The dominant form of governance embedded in the LTTE state institutions is that of a strong and centralised state with few formal institutions for democratic representation, but there are also elements of partnership arrangements and institutional experiments that may serve as a basis for more democratic forms of representation and governance. This is contingent, however, on both a peaceful resolution of the current state of insecurity for Tamils and the LTTE, and on the facilitation and dynamics of pro-democracy forces within the LTTE and in Tamil society at large.


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