Unwanted and badly timed political crisis - NPC

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 05 November 2003, 14:49 GMT]
Noting that the present alarming crisis in Sri Lanka is an end result of joint failure by both the opposition (PA) and the government (UNF), the National Peace Council (NPC), a Colombo based Sri Lankan peace group, in a media release issued in Colombo today warned that the "situation of political turmoil will prevent progress being made in the peace process."

The full text of NPC's media release follows:

"The country has been plunged into an escalating and open ended crisis following the President's take-over of the ministries of Defence, Interior and Media, and the two week suspension of Parliamentary sittings. The timing of the crisis has been doubly unfortunate as it comes at a time when the country's attention should be focused on engagement with the LTTE by making an adequate and genuine response to the LTTE's proposals for an interim administration. Now the declaration of a State of Emergency comes as a great shock to the National Peace Council and to all peace loving people.

"The escalating confrontation between the government and opposition has turned the people's hope and optimism for the future into one of tremendous anxiety, both of a breakdown in the peace process and a loss of economic developmental and reconstruction prospects. We note that the President, Government and LTTE have all been separately reiterating their commitment to the peace process, but the situation of political turmoil will prevent progress being made in the peace process.

"Inter party rivalry has been the bane of efforts to resolve ethnic conflict for the past five decades. We regret that the government failed to go beyond the scope of the Liam Fox bipartisan agreement of 1997 that called mostly for full information flow between the two sides. On the other hand, the opposition was unable to win the government's confidence that they would put the peace process before political considerations. The present alarming crisis is an end result of this joint failure.

"The National Peace Council calls on the political leaders scale down their confrontation and safeguard the peace process by finding a way to share political responsibility in the national quest for peace with justice. They should realise that they are engaged in a political battle that the people do not want. We also appeal to all groups who are committed to a peaceful resolution of ethnic conflict, both local and international, to bring influence to bear on Sri Lanka's political leaders to arrive at a bipartisan approach to the peace process even at this very late stage."

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