Violence in Parliament is setback to peace - NPC

[TamilNet, Thursday, 10 June 2004, 13:11 GMT]
"The recent violent incidents in the Sri Lanka Parliament can have devastating consequences on the confidence of the minority communities on the capacity of the country's political leadership to resolve the ethnic conflict through a negotiated solution", said the National Peace Council (NPC), a Colombo based Sri Lankan peace group, in a media release issued in Colombo Thursday calling upon the party leaders to ensure that further breakdowns do not take place within Parliament in the future.

Fulltext of the NPC release:

"VIOLENCE IN PARLIAMENT IS SETBACK TO PEACE

"The violent incidents that have marred Parliament this week have come as a shock to the nation, particularly as they included physical attacks against members of the Buddhist clergy by fellow Parliamentarians. Violent scenes in Parliament are a matter of concern because they undermine the legitimacy and integrity of the Parliament, the key instrument of democracy. We condemn acts of violence by and against elected Parliamentarians, whose duty it is to act responsibly and to set a positive example for the rest of society, and call for immediate disciplinary action to be taken against those involved.

"Incidents such as these have far reaching implications that cannot be ignored by political leaders. The disturbing trend since the resumption of Parliament after the general election on April 2 has been the deliberate attempt by some of its members to ignore parliamentary procedures and to utilise violence and force to achieve their political objectives. This kind of unruly behaviour can have devastating consequences on the confidence of the minority communities on the capacity of the country's political leadership to resolve the ethnic conflict through a negotiated solution. Further, at this time when efforts are being made to revive peace talks, the instability in Parliament can lead the LTTE to lose confidence and further harden their negotiating position.

"Sri Lanka is currently in a critical phase of its transition where the main objective should be ensuring the resumption of the stalled peace process. This is a time when there is consolidated support from the international community for the restoration of peace and development to the country. Such support is put in jeopardy when governance in the country is so evidently in disarray. All political leaders must accept the responsibility they were given when elected to preserve the interests of the people and to restore democracy, good governance and peace to the country. 

"The National Peace Council calls on party leaders to take immediate steps to work together to ensure that further breakdowns do not take place within Parliament in the future. As a first step, disciplinary action needs to be taken against those responsible for the violence by party leaders. We also call on party leaders to appoint a team of reputed citizens to conduct an independent inquiry and to make their recommendations. The people must also play a role by speaking out to mobilise shame against those who have behaved badly and make it known that if they fail to fulfil their obligations as representatives of the people they will not be elected again."

 

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