Give Talks priority over self-serving constitutional reforms, TNA tells SL President

[TamilNet, Friday, 19 November 2004, 11:35 GMT]
The Tamil National Alliance, in a statement issued to the media Friday, said that the Sri Lanka President, by her recent statement, is attempting to "deflect focus from contradictions and inconsistencies that prevail in her own government," and instead, she "should communicate to the LTTE at the earliest, that the Government is prepared to commence talks on the basis of the ISGA proposals." The 22 TNA parliamentarians signed the statement.

Full text of TNA statement follows:

The parliamentary group of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) considered the statements made by President Ms Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge in her interview with the State run Independent Television Network (ITN) and Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC) in regard to the peace talks which has received wide publicity in the media.

The TNA states that in order to deflect focus from the contradictions, and inconsistencies, that prevail within her own government, in regard to the peace talks; the President has sought by her statements, to confuse the public and the international community in regard to the true position of the peace process. The President apparently believes that by doing so, she can proceed with her own agenda.

The President claims that “ the two major parties (Sri Lanka Freedom Party -SLFP and the United national Party UNP) think as one on the resumption of peace negotiations.”

The UNP has publicly stated repeatedly, that the Government should without delay, commence negotiations with the LTTE on the basis of the ISGA proposals. Though the President has privately stated, including to the TNA on 10th June this year, that she is prepared to start talks with the LTTE only on the ISGA proposals, no such message has been conveyed to the LTTE through the Norwegian facilitators. The TNA met and discussed this issue with the LTTE on 16th November and our clear understanding is that not even the Norwegian Foreign Minister Mr.Jan Peterson carried any such message to the LTTE when he met the LTTE leadership on 11th November, having earlier met the President on 10th November.

One of the reasons advanced by the UNP for not attending meetings of the National Advisory Council on Peace and Reconciliation, is that talks should first commence with the LTTE on the basis on the ISGA proposals, before any other step.

The President’s claim that “ the two major parties think as one on the resumption of peace negotiations” in these circumstances is clearly misleading.

The President also claims “ the JVP has also accepted that this problem should be settled through discussions, and some kind of devolution of power, should be the solution to this problem. Therefore peace talks should be commenced to decide on the structure and nature of this devolution of power. Therefore peace talks should be commenced to decide on the structure and nature of this devolution of power.” It must be stated first, that this “Some kind of devolution of power” which the President states, the JVP has accepted, will certainly not find acceptance with the Tamil Nation.

The JVP has publicly stated that it is only for decentralisation and not for devolution; that it is completely opposed to any talks with the LTTE on the ISGA proposals; that the UNP government was brought down with the assistance of the JVP., because it was prepared to commence negotiations with the LTTE on the basis of the ISGA proposals, and that the JVP will bring about the fall of the present government, if it commences talks with the LTTE on the ISGA proposals. The media has widely reported that the President was pressurised by the JVP not to send any message to the LTTE through the Norwegian Foreign Minister, that the Government was prepared to commence talks on the basis of the ISGA proposals, and that the Central Committee of the JVP had taken a decision to bring down the Government, if any such message was sent. The media has also reported that the Propaganda Secretary and the Leader of the Parliamentary Group of the JVP along with members of the national Patriotic Front are visiting Europe to collect funds to carry on a campaign against talks on the ISGA proposals.

In view of the above facts the President’s statement in regard to the JVP does not reflect the true position.

The LTTE has publicly stated that once talks commence on the ISGA proposals the government could bring to the negotiating table any further proposals pertaining for the ISGA, and that all such proposals could be discussed. The LTTE has clearly conveyed this to the Government, through the Norwegian facilitators, after the last two rounds of talks with the facilitators, and have made public statements to that effect. This position of the LTTE has received wide publicity in the media.

The LTTE and that Tamil people have reiterated their commitments once the ISGA has been established to discuss a final solution. This indeed is the mandate given to the TNA at the last general election.

The Tamil Nation has been deceived in regard to an acceptable political solution several times, in the past several decades, and the Tamil people will not be deceived once again.

Yet another inconsistency that prevails within the government vis-à-vis the peace process, is its desire to push through in whatever way, certain aspects of self-serving constitutional reform, for which the Government needs at least the support of the JVP to ensure a bare majority in parliament. Such reform is all-important to the Government, and given the political realities, the government cannot implement such an agenda, in tandem with talks on the ISGA proposals.

The TNA would urge the government to bear in mind that such a step by the Government towards self-serving constitutional reform would have serious repercussions.

Rather than call upon the LTTE to inform the Government whether it is prepared to resume peace talks, within this month, on the basis of an unknown agenda, the TNA states that President should communicate to the LTTE at the earliest, that the Government is prepared to commence talks on the basis of the ISGA proposals and any other proposals pertaining to the ISGA, that the Government would take to the negotiating table on the commencement of talks. This would be in accord with the framework for talks, enunciated by the President when she met the Parliamentary Group of the TNA on 10th June.

The UNP has pledged to unconditionally support an agreement arrived at between the Government and the LTTE in regard to the ISGA. The TNA will support such an agreement, as would most other political parties represented in parliament. In fact the Government would be assured of two-thirds majority in Parliament.

The question is whether the President is prepared to give the country’s most important national issue priority over self-serving constitutional reform,” TNA statement concluded.

 

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