Sampanthan writes to PM on interim administration

[TamilNet, Monday, 26 May 2003, 14:28 GMT]
The parliamentary group leader of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Mr.R.Sampanthan Monday sent a letter to the Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister urging him to act with “adequate clarity and certainty the commitment as stated in his 2001 general election manifesto that an Interim Administration will be set up for the northeast province and such a step will strengthen and consolidate the peace process.”

“If you do not gather sufficient courage to carry out this commitment you will be playing into the hands of forces who are attempting to play politics with gravest national question and thereby disrupt the peace process,” Mr.Sampanthan told the Prime Minister through his letter.

The full text of the letter sent to the Prime Minister Monday by fax is given below:

My dear Prime Minister,

Interim Administration for the North-East

I wish to draw your attention to the steps that have been taken several times thus far, to set up an interim administration for the northeast, and the compelling reasons for an interim administration to be set up at the present juncture.

After the signing of the Indo-Sri Lanka Agreement on 29 July 1987, the J.R. Government in September 1987 announced the setting up of an interim administration for the northeast. The composition of the interim administration was to be done in such a manner as to give the LTTE a significant presence in the interim administration. Seven out of the twelve nominees inclusive of the Chairman and a Muslim representative were to be nominated by the LTTE, the TULF was to nominate two representatives and the other three comprising of one Muslim and two Sinhalese were to be nominated by the President. The names of the Appointees other than that of the Chairman were finalized.

During the tenure of the first Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge government in 1994, discussions took place regarding the setting up of an interim administration for the northeast. If the peace talks continued an interim administration would have been set up. The thinking was that the LTTE would be given a significant presence in the interim administration.

The first Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge government’s constitutional proposals of August 2000 contained provisions for the setting up of an interim administration for the northeast for a period of five years. The proposals contained further provisions for the setting up of a Board of nine ministers, of the said interim council. The provisions were such as to enable, in the normal course, the majority community in the northeast to have six of the nine positions on the Board of Ministers. The Board of ministers would have exercised powers as per the said constitutional proposals. I wish to state that the TULF did not participate in the negotiations that resulted in these proposals relating Interim Council and an Interim Board of Ministers.

The present Prime Minister Mr.Ranil Wickremasinghe, prior to his election as Prime Minister, publicly discussed the setting up of an Interim Administration for the northeast, as a pre-requisite to end the conflict in the northeast.

The Election Manifesto of the United National Front-United National Party issued prior to the General Elections-2001, in the paragraphs dealing with the peace process stated, “An Interim Administration will be set up for the northern and eastern provinces.”

In the context of the clearly articulated position of the United National Front-United National Party in its election manifesto, that an interim administration will be set for the northeast and the publicly known position of the people’s Alliance which was supportive of an interim administration for the northeast, it is clear that the vast majority of the people outside the northeast supported the concept of an interim administration for the northeast at the 2001 general elections. Within the northeast it is beyond doubt that the vast majority of the people supported the concept of an interim administration for the northeast.

All political parties which have advocated the peaceful resolution of the northeast conflict through dialogue and the vast majority of people who support that view, have clearly demonstrated that they see an interim administration for the northeast, as a means through which there could be a final political resolution of the northeast conflict within a united country.

The destruction, devastation and displacement of people that has been caused in the northeast post 1987, post 1995, post 2000, and until the ceasefire commenced in December-001, is immense, and of a very much greater magnitude that which had occurred in the earlier periods.

The Sub Committee on immediate rehabilitation and humanitarian needs (SIHRN) was set up for an immediate purpose-to deal with immediate rehabilitation and humanitarian needs in the northeast.

It is clear that SIHRN was not intended to be the only body to deal with rehabilitation, reconstruction or development needs in the northeast in the short medium and long term. It would appear that this task was intended to be handled by a more powerful and effective body, which would be truly sensitive to, and comet grips with the horrendous situation prevalent in the northeast, particularly amongst the Tamil people, and in the areas populated by the Tamil people.

There are areas formerly inhabited by the Tamil people in the northeast which have been so completely destroyed and denuded that there does not exist even a single building, or any infrastructure facilities of whatever nature, where even natural resources have been devastated, and where not even a single humans being now lives.

The reconstruction and the development of these areas, the rehabilitation and the return of Tamil people to normal life in these areas is an integral and paramount component of the peace process. This enormous task cannot be fulfilled by ad-hoc arrangements. This enormous task can only be fulfilled by a body empowered to decide upon, priorities on a fair and just basis, co-ordinate and effectively implement, the entire gamut of rehabilitation, reconstruction and development activities in the northeast. A firm commitment in regard to the setting up of such a body is absolutely essential.

Such a body, as an interim measure, and the active involvement of the LTTE in such a body, will also pave the path for a final political solution. There is already a measure of understanding between the Sri Lanka Government and the LTTE in regard to the parameters of a final political solution.

It is clear that the thinking of successive governments has been in favour of an interim administration for the northeast. It is also clear that successive governments have regarded an interim administration as a necessary and paramount important step in moving towards a final political solution.

The necessity of an interim administration has never been as urgently required as it is today, when hundred of thousands of displaced Tamil people want to resettled in their homes and recommence normal life.

The LTTE’s commitment to a peaceful and political resolution of the conflict has never been as manifest, as it is today and it would be myopic not to attempt seriously to make this opportunity a success.

I also wish to raise with you the following issues: -

If the Sinhala polity or politically powerful segments within it, are not even prepared to agree to set up an interim administration empowered to reconstruct and rebuild the devastated northeast and resettle and rehabilitate the hundred of thousands of displaced Tamil people in the northeast, it should be manifestly clear that such segments within the Sinhala polity will never agree to grant substantial political autonomy to the northeast, and statements that they support the peace process are devoid of any merit. It would seem that Sinhala hegemony in the northeast should continue. This is a reality that the international community, which is earnestly endeavoring to evolve an acceptable political solution to the northeast conflict, within a united country, should take serious cognizance of and deliberate upon.

Every political party, particularly the Peoples’ Alliance and even the United National Party, the author of the present constitution agree that the present constitution should be replaced with a more liberal constitution ensuring different values. In that situation, to seek refuge behind the existing constitution and thereby find excuses for not setting up an adequately sensitive mechanism, empowered to undertake the reconstruction and development of the northeast and the rehabilitation and the return of Tamil people to normal life in the northeast, is nothing but an insidious effort to conceal an inherent unwillingness to treat the Tamil people as equals within a united country. Neither can the Tamil people indefinitely continue to be the victims of the unprincipled and avaricious political rivalry between the main protagonists within the Sinhala polity.

We have to urge you in the context of all that has been stated above, to reiterate with adequate clarity and certainty, your commitment as stated in your election manifesto that an interim administration will be set up for the northeast which will be empowered to rebuild and reconstruct the northeast and resettle and rehabilitate the hundred of thousands of displaced people in the northeast. Such a step will strengthen and consolidate the peace process. May I say with respect, that if you do not gather sufficient courage to reiterate this commitment you will be playing into the hands of forces who are attempting to play politics with the gravest national question and thereby disrupt the peace process.”

 

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