"UPFA firmly committed to political dialogue with LTTE"
[TamilNet, Friday, 27 February 2004, 12:39 GMT]
“Within a short time of the formation of the Freedom Alliance government President Kumaratunge will call for the recommencement of the peace talks with the LTTE and also propose time frames for solving the problems concerned," said the United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA) in a press release issued Friday in Colombo.
Full text of the press release of the United Peoples Freedom Alliance follows:
At the commencement of the general election campaign of 2004, on behalf of the Peoples’ Freedom Alliance, its leader President Ms.Chandrika Kumaratunge and each and every one its constituent parties, we wish to send the following messages to the people of Sri Lanka.1. A negotiated political settlement:
We wish to re-affirm once again, as we have done on many occasions, that the Freedom Alliance stands firmly committed to a political dialogue with the LTTE with a view to bringing about a final solution to the ethnic problem. Although the UNF is accusing President Kumaratunge of having stalled the peace process and is propagating a fear psychosis with regard to the prospect of war, President Kumaratunge and the Peoples’ Alliance state categorically that the peace process that was stalled by the fickle minded attitude of the UNF government and the non-implementation of items agreed at the meetings with the LTTE, will be continued. The Alliance recalls the words of a LTTE leader who said that the six rounds of talks with the UNF government were a waste of time. The Prime Minister himself has admitted that he had made mistakes in the negotiating process. President Kumaratunge states on behalf of the Peoples’ Freedom Alliance that she will correct all such mistakes. The choice is not the simplistic one, as the Prime Minister would like us to believe, of peace with him or else war. This is an unfair and unrealistic option. Is he really saying vote for him or there will be war? Is this not a threat to the people? Is this not gross war mongering to whip up a fear psychosis in order to frighten the people? Is he saying Louis the XVI “ après moi le deluge”- after me the deluge? The true choice is between the dubious, cloistered, secretive and exclusive process of negotiations behind the back of the nation (that the Prime Minister offers) or a transparent, open inclusive and participatory process that the Freedom Alliance offers to the nation to ensure a just and durable peace.
2. The Freedom Alliance emphasizes once again and will continue emphasizing that the ceasefire will stand. Consequent to the take over of certain ministerial portfolios including defense by President Kumaratunge on November 4th, 2003 there has not been a single incident of confrontation with the LTTE and the ceasefire is holding more effectively than during the UNF period. The LTTE is aware of this situation and appreciates it. Within a short time of the formation of the Freedom Alliance government President Kumaratunge will call for the recommencement of the peace talks with the LTTE and also propose time frames for solving the problems concerned.
3. The people must be aware that the UNF is desperately seeking to distract attention from the grave problems that beset the people today. These are the problems of a horrendous cost of living that has gone completely beyond control. They are the problems of unemployment and hopelessness for the young people of our land. They are the problems of unbridled corruption, which has reached staggering proportions, which have never been seen before. They are the problems of lawlessness and highhanded behaviour by those who hold public office and their families. Indeed the people are clamouring for this much advertised peace dividend. What have the people got in those two years? A few cronies have prospered but the vast majority of the people are groaning with suffering. These are fundamental questions that no amount of rhetoric and scare mongering and the presentation of artificial choices can help to solve.
4. We fervently hope that the impending election will be free of violence. We will do our utmost and we urge all our candidates and party supporters to behave in a peaceful manner and allow the poll to be conducted so as to enable the people to express their will freely. We call upon the police and other law enforcement agencies to act firmly and fairly in preventing violence. It is their duty to protect the people. They must not look for favors from any party. They must help to create a climate where people can cast their votes without fear. We urge all religious leaders, members of civil society and all others concerned in the holding of a peaceful election to speak out against violence and to help in every possible way to ensure that election is free and fair.