LTTE says ISGA proposals not final, open to discussion
[TamilNet, Thursday, 16 September 2004, 00:28 GMT]
The LTTE said its interim administration proposals were not rigid or final and it was ready to negotiate the issue but it saw the lack of clarity on the part of the government as the main stumbling block, for the resumption of peace talks, the Daily Mirror reported Wednesday, quoting LTTE political wing leader, Mr S. P. Thamilchelvan.
The Daily Mirror spoke to Mr. Thamilchelvan at his office in Kilinochchi on Tuesday.
Asked by the Daily Mirror whether the LTTE’s Interim Self-Governing Authority (ISGA) proposals were rigid and non-negotiable, Mr. Thamilchelvan said the proposals were not rigid or final and should be discussed at the negotiating table.
However, he said that the government should not put forward counter proposals before resuming the negotiations and insisted that the ISGA proposals should be the basis for the talks to begin.
Mr. Thamilchelvan said the government should speak in one voice and have a clear stance on how the peace process should move forward.
He was referring to the strident campaign amongst the public by the Marxist Janatha Vimukthi Perumana (JVP) against the ISGA which was taking place even as President Chandrika Kumaratunga told Norwegian facilitators she was prepared to discuss the proposals.
President Kumaratunga’s Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), which along with the JVP, leads the ruling United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) coalition, issued a lengthy critique and rejection of the ISGA proposals late last year, shortly after she seized key ministers from the then United National Front (UNF) government.
"The President says one thing in the morning, another by day and a completely different thing in the night. Apart from that, the JVP is saying things completely contrary. The government and the south should speak in one voice. Otherwise, we cannot take forward the peace process," he said.
"We want an interim structure that would enable the benefits of the ceasefire to go to the people and to provide humanitarian assistance. We felt the proposals given by the former government on an interim structure to address these issues did not have sufficient powers. Then the government and the international community requested us to put forward our proposals. We consulted a lot of people and put forward these ISGA proposals as a basis on which the peace talks could resume. The former government accepted the proposals as a basis for negotiations," Mr. Thamilchelvan said.
He said it was at this stage that President Kumaratunga took over three key ministries and various consequences followed.
"Now the situation is complicated. If we look throughout history, this has happened. When a government wants to solve the problem, some others upset it," he said.
Mr. Thamilchelvan said the Tamil people who had been fighting for a separate state had now come to the discussion table and put forward their alternate proposals for an interim structure.
When asked about the LTTE's response to the stance of the JVP, Mr. Thamilchelvan said his movement’s view was that the JVP was against peace talks even before the ISGA proposals were put forward.
He said the LTTE hoped it could come to the South and take its message to the people there from some platform but could not do so due the present circumstances.
"We want to come to the South and from a platform directly take our message to the people. We are different from the JVP," he said.
Mr. Thamilchelvan said the LTTE was ready to have discussions with any group about the conflict and would welcome anyone who wished to have a dialogue with it.