Don't sacrifice peace for political gain - NPC

[TamilNet, Friday, 14 November 2003, 10:18 GMT]
"The ongoing power struggle between the President and Government has reached a stage where it is clearly endangering the peace process", warned the National Peace Council (NPC), a Colombo based Sri Lankan peace group, in a media release today. NPC urged the Norwegian facilitators to reconsider their decision and appealed to the President and Government to create the conditions for their return. 

The full text of NPC's media release follows:

DON'T SACRIFICE PEACE FOR POLITICAL GAIN

The ongoing power struggle between the President and Government has reached a stage where it is clearly endangering the peace process. The National Peace Council is very concerned about the decision of the Norwegian government to suspend its facilitative role due to the lack of clarity as to who holds power and authority in Sri Lanka. We urge the Norwegian facilitators to reconsider their decision and appeal to the President and Government to create the conditions for their return. 

We welcome the verbal assurances of the President, Government and the LTTE that they are all committed to the ceasefire and will continue with the peace process. The National Peace Council also welcomes the dialogue that has commenced between the President and Prime Minister in regard to finding a mutually agreeable solution to the crisis. We call on them to give respect to each other and desist from further acts of unilateralism.

In working towards a resolution of the crisis, the National Peace Council urges a three-fold basis that the parties can use to reach a principled settlement. First, we ask that all parties respect the mandate of the people for a negotiated settlement to the ethnic conflict. We note that two strategies were placed before the people at the last general election, who chose the path of peace through ceasefire, peace talks and an interim administration for the north east. The majority of people rejected the path of war for peace. The people's mandate for peace needs to be given full political recognition at this time.

Second, peace talks that entail political and humanitarian issues go hand in hand with security considerations. There can be no divorce of decision making authority on those matters. Decision making powers over the negotiation process needs to be vested within a single authority and cannot be separated, which is what the present crisis has done. Peace making after years of war requires a stable framework of negotiations that has consolidated political support including bipartisanship.

Third, we propose that the government and opposition, with the participation of parties representing all ethnic communities, deal with the main cause of the present crisis, which is the constitution. We call on all parties to commit themselves to prepare the framework of an interim constitution, which addresses both the problems of central governance and an interim self-governing authority for the north east. 

The present crisis, and the dangerous political stalemate that has emerged, must provide the contending parties with the motivation to work together to save the peace process from disintegrating.


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