Three Essential Matters for Resuming Peace Talks

Uthayan editorial, Jaffna, July 7, 2005

After the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE signed the agreement on P-TOMS confidence that the stalled peace talks could be taken forward to find a peaceful resolution to the ethnic issue has been widely expressed at many levels. In particular the international community is eagerly expecting this to happen.

However, two weeks after the agreement on P-TOMS has been signed there is no progress in the peace talks, nor is there any progress in the P-TOMS implementation.

On the contrary the situation is tensed to the extent that the LTTE has placed a deadline regarding the matter of transportation for the LTTE cadres.

After the signing of the P-TOMS and following some signals that peace talks could be restarted from the political leadership in the government, apparently the international community is eager to find out the position of the LTTE.

This concern of the internationally community must be welcomed. Yet, it must also understand the ground situation. It is said that the LTTE is taking steps to inform the international community at many levels about the situation. Apparently LTTE is informing and will inform the international community that there are three stumbling blocks to resuming the peace talks.

One issue is the shadow war against the LTTE planned and carried out by the security forces in the east. Security forces are staging behind the scene activities, trying to portray that the security forces and the intelligence wing are two different unconnected entities. Under the banner of Karuna, the intelligence unit is bringing together rogue elements to carry out the shadow war to break the power of the LTTE in the east and to destroy their structures. LTTE is fully aware that the government has given its full blessing for this activity. LTTE believes that it is meaningless to hold peace talks with a government on one the hand when the same government is carrying out a shadow war on the other hand.

Second issue is the suspicion among Tamils whether the government will implement the P-TOMS agreement that was signed after a lot of pushing and pulling. Ranil government which had a majority in parliament allowed SIHRN agreement, signed between the government and the LTTE for the rehabilitation of Tamil people affected by the war, to die. This in spite of the fact that it was signed as an part of the peace process. In this context, Tamil people do not believe that an agreement with a minority government will result in any benefits, or aid, or relief for the Tamils. They are expecting that this too will be allowed to die.

Therefore, it is meaningless to think that just because P-TOMS agreement has been signed the time is right to restart the peace talks. Tamils think that such a view is unacceptable. If the government can demonstrate that it has the will to implement what was agreed in the P-TOMS, then ripe atmosphere for the resumption of peace talks will be created.

The third issue is that there is no strong political leadership in the south of Sri Lanka. Breakdown of the coalition, prevailing confusion, and increased tension has created a volatile situation. The ruling group has lost its majority. There is also confusion whether president in power will last for just another three months or whether she will last for another fifteen months. The political tension in south is the worst ever. There is no purpose or fairness in LTTE restarting the peace talks with a weak government that is in a confused state.

Thus the LTTE will explain, and has explained to the international community that, - The time is not ripe yet for restarting the peace talks and - The efforts to create such an environment must be taken with commitment in the south.

If the stalled peace talks are to be resumed, the shadow war conducted in the east with the blessing of the government must first be brought to a stop.  The P-TOMS agreement must be speedily implemented.  A strong political leadership must be created in the south.  These three are the basic requirements.



Posted July 13, 2005