Sinhala leaders lack capacity to understand national crisis - Uyangoda

[TamilNet, Saturday, 24 January 2004, 03:11 GMT]
"[The SLFP-JVP alliance] raises some disturbing questions about the incapacity of the old as well as the emerging political leadership in the Sinhala society to even simply understand what the Sri Lanka's present crisis is all about," said Prof.Jeyadeva Uyangoda in an article assessing the impact of the new alliance on the current political dynamics in Colombo in the Friday's edition of Daily mirror.

Prof. Uyangoda, Head of the Department of Political Science, Colombo University, noting that the new alliance has "so far failed to inspire much enthusiasm," ominously commented that "the new alliance between the President's party and the JVP adds nothing new to make the Southern political society capable of constructively handling the prevailing political stalemate. Rather, the alliance has the potential to become even a stumbling bloc to any further progress in Sri Lanka's conflict transformation and peace process."

Describing the current political context as being defined by the following three dimensions, "the stalemate in the peace negotiations...the political uncertainty arising out of the conflict between the President and the Prime Minister too...Christian and Catholic communities have been subjected to systematic violence unleashed on them by Sinhala-Buddhist extremist groups," he criticised SLFP-JVP MoU as "written in archaic political language of Sinhala Nationalism." He said the MoU contained a political agenda that is "not relevant to Sri Lanka's current realities and challenges."

Contrary to Prof.Uyangoda's position that the conflict must be viewed as a struggle between two nations, the MoU he says "looks at the minority grievances primarily from the limited perspective of discrimination." He concludes that "with such backward thinking, the alliance can hardly re-launch the stalled peace process in Sri Lanka...If she [Ms.Kumaratunge] is really committed to giving leadership to the next phase of the peace process, she will have to totally ignore, and go against, the MoU."

He describes the Sinhalas leadership as having "stale minds," and asserts that "...UNP, the SLFP and the JVP, separately or collectively, do not offer the Sri Lankan people a political leadership with any exciting vision or capacity for fresh political imagination and intervention."

Prof.Uyangoda concludes that because of the ethnic polarization and electoral reality of having to seek coalition partners from smaller parties "the new coalition can hardly alter Sri Lanka's existing stalemate, even at an election." He adds that for Sri Lanka to prosper it "needs new alliances, new alignments of social and political forces, and fresh political initiatives." He cautions that such new alliances must be formed within a political framework that does not "take the political debate and agenda back several decades."

Prof. Uyangoda was one of the Marxist rebels who led the armed insurrection to capture state power in 1971. He was incarcerated for many years after the rebellion was ruthlessly crushed by Sri Lankan armed forces.


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