Peace approach should transcend party politics- paper
[TamilNet, Thursday, 15 September 2005, 16:59 GMT]
"The peace process requires an approach that transcends narrow and warped ambitions of party politics. The two Presidential candiates, Premier Mahinda Rajapaksa and Opposition leader Ranil Wickramesinghe, must refrain from making the peace process an issue at the forthcoming Presidential elections," said an editorial of Thinakkural, a popular Tamil daily in its Thursday edition.
"Making the election a referendum on the question of solution to the ethnic conflict appears to be the electoral strategy of the two Presidential contenders.
"Mr Wickremasinghe maintains an unchanged stand vis a vis the ethnic question, whereas Mr Rajapakse who has brought Sinhala extremists into his fold says "Talks with LTTE recquire a change in approach." In his interview with Reuters Wednesday referring to the new approach he gave priority to economic development and promised to convert Cease Fire Agreement into permanent peace. He also said rival political parties will be invited and the process will involve all the parties.
"The Premier has stated that the ethnic conflict cannot be solved without consensus from the South and that Liberation Tigers must understand that. The Premier has further stated that the feelings of the Sinhala majority must be respected and without that any progress in peace is not possible. The Prime Minister said that the responsibility must be shared by all the parties, and therefore, a new approach and concerted effort is recquired," the editorial said of the stands taken by the two candidates.
The editorial said the reason that has compelled the Premier to express the above view is the pressing need to atleast temporarily refute the allegation that is being levelled against him for forming alliance with extremist Sinhala political parties, Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) and Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU), thereby locking himself into an inflexible position on the peace process.
“If Premier Mahinda Rajapaksa is honest and genuine about his suggested "new approach" and his intention to involve rival political parties and other parties in the peace process, there is a concrete step that he should take right now. He must call upon his rival candidate Wickremasinghe along with him to isolate and remove the question of peace process entirely from the agenda of the UNP and the SLFP.
"The peace efforts recquire an approach that goes beyond the parochial and perverted political ambitions if a breakdown of the ceasefire agreement now seriously threatened by worsening security situation is to be avoided and rekindling of the war fever in the south is to be prevented,” the editorial said.
“JVP and JHU are intent on using the Presidential polls as a plank to promote their Sinhala Buddist chauvinistic agenda. This must be defeated if we are to see a healthy political trend in Sri Lanka in the future,” the editorial warned.
The Premier and the opposition leader must reach a consensus not to make peace process an election issue, the editorial concluded.