JVP-SLFP alliance seriously jeopardizes Peace Process - American Academics

[TamilNet, Sunday, 25 January 2004, 17:42 GMT]
North American academics expressed pessimism about the future of the peace process after the JVP-SLFP alliance. Prof.Oberst of Nebraska Weslyan University said, "it has complicated the peace process...LTTE leadership [will be] hesitant to agree to anything until after the next general election." Prof Mia Bloom from McGill University said the alliance "seriously jeopardizes the peace process since it provides legitimization of the SLFP shifting even further to the right."

Full text of the comments by the two academics follows:

Prof. Robert Oberst
TamilNet: The SLFP-JVP alliance has further worsened the rivalry between Sri Lanka's President and the Prime Minister. How do you see the political crisis in Colombo developing? How does the alliance impact the peace process?

Prof.Oberst: The SLFP-JVP alliance has made it very difficult to make predictions about what will happen next. What we do know is that it has complicated the peace process. First, it has created a great deal of uncertainty about the direction that an SLFP government might take if elected and this should generate suspicions among the LTTE leadership that may make them hesitant to agree to anything until after the next general election.

Secondly, no one is quite sure what impact the JVP will have. They have been presenting a very moderate side in their post-alliance statements, but whether anyone will believe that they have moderated their position on the ethnic minorities of Sri Lanka is an unanswered question.

The impact on the rivalry between the president and the prime minister is also hard to predict. The reports of a breakthrough in the negotiations between the prime minister and president may be one of the positive consequences of the alliance. The creation of the alliance may prompt Ranil into making a deal as well as make it easier for the president to negotiate a deal now that the uncertainty of the electoral alliance has been resolved.

Prof. Mia Bloom
Prof.Bloom: I think this alliance seriously jeopardizes the peace process since it provides legitimization of the SLFP shifting even further to the right, and the JVP is far less likely to moderate its position via a vis Tamil rights on the Island.

The longer the deadlock continues and parties refuse to negotiate, the more likely that these divisions will become insurmontable and political parties will shift towards greater extremism and chauvinism. I still maintain hope that the Prime Minister and the leadership of the Tamil community will find a way to resume negotiations before right -wing alliances spoil the potential for peace.

TamilNet: What should the donor community do if the political instability remains unresolved?

Prof. Bloom: The question about what foreign donors should do is somewhat complicated. One the one hand, if the international community tries to enforce an agreement, it will appear neo colonialist. Pulling out all financial support will further exacerbate existing divisions, and the present situation (of wait and see) does nothing to address the ongoing deadlock. It would appear that the international community has few options and maybe should provide positive incentives in order to get all parties back in the process -- however with a time limit.

Professor Robert C.Oberst is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Nebraska Wesleyan University and is currently in Sri Lanka.

Professor Mia Bloom is a Professor at McGill University in Canada.

 

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