Build coalition to support serious peace, Schaffer tells Colombo

[TamilNet, Saturday, 08 July 2006, 11:10 GMT]
"The most fundamental challenge for the Sri Lankan government is to maintain, or perhaps establish, a political coalition that will support a serious peace process. To get the LTTE to the table, it will need to persuade the LTTE that eventual peace talks would be worthwhile," said Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a Washington-based think tank, in a report released Wednesday. Former Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Teresita Schaffer, is the Director of South Asia programs at CSIS.

Teresita Schaffer
Ambassador Teresita Schaffer
PDF IconCSIS Report: Can Sri Lanka Turn Away from War?

Pointing out to the violence escalating in the months before the Sri Lanka Presidential elections, the report warned, "The current half-war could go on for some time, but it could disappear in a moment if a spectacular attack took place. Given the increasing level of violence, the logic of the situation is drifting toward a resumption of real war, and it will take a change of course on both sides to bring the parties to a path that can lead to a real cease-fire or to peace."

The report said with Rajapakse's coalition partners, the extremists Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) and Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), rejecting Federalism and denouncing any compromise with Liberation Tigers, the Sri Lanka President has "few options for persuading a very skeptical LTTE that he is serious about a peace settlement."

"Rajapakse’s election manifesto had rejected the word “federal,” and statements from the LTTE going back at least two years implicitly reject any qualifications on 'self-determination.' In order to ensure an actual and lasting cease-fire as well as a return to constructive peace talks, both sides now need to recreate the basis for a viable compromise," the report said.

On the issue of renegade Karuna, the report said, "The LTTE’s insistence on government disarming of “paramilitaries” is aimed at him. The government’s denials of any involvement ring hollow, and the newspaper story reporting that Rajapakse had made a truce offer, including an offer to rein in Karuna, will surely be taken as confirmation."

The report speculated that athe LTTE's military actions in the past six months of resorting to guerilla actions and not major land engagements may be more to do with LTTE thinking that the time is not right rather than indicating that LTTE's military capacity has still not recovered from earlier campaigns. "The big question is whether LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran, always oriented more toward the military than the political, regards war as inevitable, or even as desirable," the report said.

On the international involvement and leverage the report said that although the LTTE values international respectability, any "leverage, however, needs to be measured against the LTTE leadership’s judgment of the potential benefits of negotiations. In the past, Prabhakaran has valued the LTTE’s military potential more than the benefits of working with the international community."


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