'Absence of war is not peace'- Chandrika

[TamilNet, Friday, 25 October 2002, 10:32 GMT]
President Ms Chandrika Kumaratunge Thursday in her televised speech said that the country is in turmoil although the government is doing maximum possible to implement its part of the ceasefire agreement signed by the Prime Minister and the LTTE leader. She reminded that the absence of war is not peace. She said one party is violating the agreement and that addressing the core issues to the conflict must be made part of the agenda for talks.

Excerpts from President Chandrika's address to the nation are given below: -

"Many positive measures are being implemented with success with the objective of reducing tension in the country. The government is doing maximum possible to implement its part of the ceasefire agreement signed by the Prime Minister and the LTTE leader. But at the same time there is much turmoil in the country. The freedom granted under the ceasefire agreement has allowed one group to suppress the rights of many other groups.

"Seven major incidents of violence in the eastern province during the last two months have caused serious problems to the Muslim people and in some instances to the Sinhala community living in the east. Security forces camps have been attacked in the north and east.

"Judging by the statements made by those who are in charge of the peace process much more have to be done before reaching the point of addressing the root causes of the problems. Learning from the experiences of five previous attempts to reach a negotiated settlement with the LTTE to end the war, it would not be wrong for me to say that the absence of war is not peace. It has proved to be only a period of respite for further continuation of war.

"On this occasion I sincerely hope, more than perhaps any one else, that the situation will turnout to be different from those in previous occasions.

"I wish to repeat once again that much work to be done by all concerned. A clear vision and policy framework to end the war and bring a durable solution to the causes of the conflict needs to be enunciated. The government owes this to the people of the country who have a right to know what solution is being proposed for the resolution of the country's most devastating problem. The only obstacle to peace is the lack of agreed agenda to discuss the core issues of the conflict and serious violations of the ceasefire agreement by one of the signatories.

President Ms Chandrika Kumaratunge in her address to the nation further said:

"The entire nation must agree on one comprehensive plan of action for peace as well as for economic development and then agree to implement it together.

"The two major democratic political forces in the country have not been able to agree on anything positive for years since independence. I invited the United National Party three times for working together to find solution to the country's problems. In the third attempt I invited the UNP to form a government of national reconciliation one year ago. It is regrettable that all these attempts have not succeeded.

"Subsequently in December, 2001 the people of this country took matters into their hands and decided that the two main democratic political parties should work together when they elected the UNP to form a government led by an Executive President of the Peoples Alliance twice elected with a large popular mandate. What has occurred in the ensuing eleven months since this occasion as far as co-habitation is concerned? I am fully aware the historic and rare opportunity given to us by the people to put all rancour behind and worked together.

"I am also fully aware of the thinking and heartbeat of my people. The Supreme Court has recently quashed an attempt at subverting the franchise of the people by the nineteenth amendment. I do not consider it as a personal victory. It is a victory for democracy. It is a victory also for all Sri Lankans who have voted in large numbers for democracy through the history of Sri Lanka.

"I reiterate today that all those who believe the executive presidential powers are too extensive should join me to work towards the abolition of executive presidency altogether.

"I invite the leader of the United National Party and his party to join me in my enterprise for the abolition of the executive presidency to democratize the electoral system further.


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