is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination
encircles the world." -Albert
Various columnists perceive the current impasse in the peace
negotiations in different ways. Iqbal
Athas of The Sunday Times thunders that the "Road
map to peace in Lanka (is) facing LTTE barriers".
PK Balachandran of Hindustan Times declares "Lanka not to allow LTTE to run
Both Balachandran and Athas are
portraying their perceptions. They
perceive the current limbo is due to the LTTE demanding an Interim
Administration, which any legitimately elected, democratically decorated
government cannot set up.
From the LTTE's perspective, they
are endeavoring to achieve two important objectives by resurfacing the
good old issue of an Interim Administration. First and foremost, they
want to prove to the International community that the Singhalese
governments never deliver on their commitments and secondly, the LTTE
want to ensure that the aid money is used effectively and efficiently to
rehabilitate and reconstruct war ravaged North East.
It must be remembered that it was
Mr. Ranil Wickramasinghe who suggested that he would offer the LTTE an
interim administration for two years during the 2001 General Election
Campaign, which was even incorporated in the UNP's election manifesto.
This made President Kumaratunaga vow to derail the interim
administration proposal, way back in 2001.
"Sri Lanka’s President
Chandrika Kumaratunga Thursday vowed to derail the proposed peace
efforts of the main opposition United National Party (UNP) if the latter
were to come to power in next month’s Parliamentary elections,"
the state owned Daily News said on Friday, 23rd
In democratic countries an election
manifesto is a commitment between the voters and the political parties.
Therefore Ranil Wickramasinghe has a democratic duty to fulfill
the commitment he made to the Sri Lankan nation at large. The so called
democratic and free world needs to teach the Sri Lankan government a
lesson or two in democracy before urging the LTTE to join main stratum
The International community needs
to understand that what the LTTE is demanding at the moment is what has
already been promised to them, both directly and indirectly. Dr. Anton Balasingham reiterates this point in his letter to
the Norwegian Foreign Minister. "Originally the idea of an interim
administrative structure for the Northeast was mooted by the LTTE months
before the last general elections. The UNP leadership endorsed the
proposal and the Prime Minister Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe openly
campaigned in support of an interim administrative structure with the
active participation of the LTTE," he states.
Further, the LTTE has gone back to
demanding an Interim Administration after trying the alternative
proposed by the government (SIHRN) failed.
"The country representatives of the World Bank and Asian
Development Bank have said that they agreed with the Liberation
Tigers’ criticism of the inefficiency of Sri Lanka government’s
bureaucracy", The Sunday Times reported on 2nd June 2003.
The reiteration of the Interim
Administration demand is also a 'challenge test' for the government set
by the LTTE, in which the government has failed miserably.
LTTE set the challenge to test the government's credibility in
fulfilling its commitments. If
the Government cannot deliver on its own election manifesto, then how
can it be trusted to deliver on a final political settlement?
The International Community need to
pressurize the Colombo government to honour its election promise and
setup an Interim Administration to prove its commitment. One should not
for a moment fool himself or herself that the battle for Eelam these
past 20 years has been about getting an interim council. Interim
Administration is a means to the end, not the end itself.
If the government cannot deliver on this interim step, how is it
going to deliver the final settlement?
It is no secret that the near
economic collapse of the Sri Lankan state and its inability to fund the
war effort was the key driver, which pushed the government to negotiate
with the LTTE. Therefore,
why should the same LTTE, which brought down the government to its
knees, now help it get aid to be utilised for the rest of the country?
The one and only reason for the
LTTE to participate in the Tokyo conference is - it should benefit the
Tamil People. If there
isn't any mechanism to ensure that the funds will be utilised in the
NorthEast, then why should they participate?
The donor community should remember
the millions of dollars they funded to rebuilt Jaffna after it was
captured by the Sri Lankan Government ended up in the South and in the
pockets of politicians. Therefore,
a corruption-free and efficient mechanism is needed from the donor
community's perspective as well.
The fact that the LTTE is banned in
those countries is not an excuse. The
removal of the ban is long overdue.
LTTE, unlike the other organizations, which are listed, has been
in negotiation mode for the last year or so.
In addition, they have never been a threat to US, UK, Canada or
Australia. So why keep the ban, when the LTTE's number one adversary,
the Sri Lankan government, has already removed the ban on the
organization and is in the process of negotiating peace?
The current peace process is bogged
down because the Sri Lankan negotiating team has too much knowledge
about the constitution. Prof.
Pieris is an expert in constitutional law and he perceives the problem
through his constitutional lenses.
What the government needs is imagination to solve the problem
creatively, not bound by constitutional constraints.
It must be noted that it is this
very constitution that has created the ethnic problem in Sri Lanka.
Therefore, why be bound by the same demon in finding a solution?
Some people call it a catch 22. Is it really?
The Sunday Leader in its
editorial on the 3rd of June 2003, under the caption
"Who is scared about CBK?" illustrates the lack of guts in the
part of the UNP government to confront the President, who is hell bent
on breaking the peace process. The Sunday Leader editorial
concludes by stating that "The UNF will rue this day if it
persuades itself that Kumaratunga does not need to be confronted head
on. She should not just be exposed, but crippled politically so that she
cannot continue to sabotage the country for her own personal greed. The
nation has tolerated the antics of this malevolent piece of mischief far
too long. It is time to show her up and make her account for her sins.
This is not a question of settling political scores, it is a question of
doing what the government was elected to do - serve the people, not the
President. Who's afraid of CBK? Ranil Wickremesinghe and the UNF, that's
Ranil Wickramasinghe's government is unable to shake its hand with reality and make progress in the peace negotiations. Because its hands and minds are tied with the constitution, the president and a lack of courage. The need of the hour is not the knowledge (about the constitution) that limits; but the imagination to make progress.