Parliamentary debate on truce concludes
[TamilNet, Tuesday, 05 March 2002, 20:22 GMT]
The two-day Parliamentary debate on permanent ceasefire agreement between the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers concluded Tuesday evening with a winding up speech by the Constitutional Affairs Minister Professor G. L. Peiris. "The cease-fire agreement signed by the United National Front government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam is the best to end the war in the country," he insisted.
Earlier former Speaker and now a parliamentarian with the main opposition People's Alliance, Mr.Anura Bandaranaike, said that "through the cease-fire agreement the LTTE was preparing for war." He questioned the UNF government whether it was prepared to handle such a situation. Mr. Bandaranaike further protested that the truce agreement did not raise issues like the time frame for the commencement of peace talks with the LTTE. In addition, the LTTE has not issued a statement abandoning the Eelam demand, he said.
The indefinite truce has been vehemently criticised by the main opposition PA and the Marxist Janatha Vimukthi Perumana (JVP) as a surrender to the LTTE. But few PA parliamentarians spoke against the cease-fire agreement in the debate. The notable absentee in the two-day debate was Mr. Lakshman Kadirgamar, the former Foreign Minister in the PA government and now special advisor to President Kumaratunga.
Economic Reforms Minister Mr.Milinda Morogoda said that the cease-fire agreement would be used pave the way for peace talks with the LTTE.
The JVP parliamentarian Mr.Anura Dissanayake said that with the signing of the agreement with the government, the LTTE had laid a foundation to establish a separate state in the island.
Tamil politicians Tuesday spoke in support of the UNF, whose argument was launched Monday by Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe. The Tamil National Alliance, a coalition of four main Tamil parliamentary parties Tuesday slammed the PA and JVP for opposing the Norwegian brokered truce.
Speaking Monday, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe defended the agreement saying "I wish to assure the House that the best minds in this country and abroad have studied the text."
"It should be seen as a reasonable and practical foundation on which a political solution to this seemingly intractable problem can be built upon and not as an end in itself," he said.
"Listening to the speeches from the opposition benches I got the impression that the JVP's attack seems to be against the peace process and not against the cease-fire agreement," said Mr. R. Sampanthan, the TNA's parliamentary group leader
"This has long been the position of the JVP, from time to time of the Indo-Sri Lanka agreement and through out. One begins to wonder whether the JVP recognises the
existence of a serious national conflict or is it the JVP's position that there is no such conflict in this country," he said.
"Many of the critics of the peace process suffer from the paranoia that the Sri Lanka armed forces have not been able to militarily defeat the LTTE which was their cherished dream, and which would have probably enabled them to further subjugate the Tamil nationality," said Mr. Sampanthan. "I would appeal to those critics to get out of this syndrome and make an honourable peace with the Tamil nationality and the LTTE."
"In dealing with situations such as the one we are confronted with, it is absolutely imperative that there should be a pragmatic and realistic appraisal of the ground situation that is prevalent in that part of the country," he said. "It must be acknowledged that successive governments have tried and tried very hard to defeat the LTTE militarily and they have failed. Successive governments have acknowledged thus. That is why the international community insists on that the LTTE must be spoken to and a solution evolved through dialogue."
|Venerable Baddegama Samitha Thera, Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP) parliamentarian for Galle.(TamilNet Library photo)|
Meanwhile, in a curious break from tradition, the Sri Lanka's first Buddhist monk Parliamentarian Tuesday spoke out in support of the ceasefire agreement.
Venerable Baddegama Samitha Thera, a member of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP), criticised opponents of the truce, declaring that "no political group has the right to obstruct the massive mandate received by the United National Front (UNF) government in the December 5 general election to solve the Northeast problem."
He also appealed to all political parties to look at the peace process in a realistic manner and suggested that a parliamentary select committee and a national committee comprising Buddhist monks should look into the cease-fire agreement in a positive way to achieve peace in the country.