Contradictory Aims and Dilemmas in the Peace Process

By Dr. S. Narapalasingam

[TamilWeek.com] The many dilemmas in the peace process launched in February 2002 call for an alternative approach to conflict resolution that will focus straightaway on the core issues of the ethnic conflict. The dilemmas on one hand relate to the price of continuing the gory war with no definite prospect of swift victory but distinct possibility of further losses; and on the other to the difficulties in settling the conflict peacefully through the process of dialogue and compromise. Those suggesting that the government must continue to stick exclusively to the negotiation process have not fully grasped the distinction between the ethnic and separatist conflicts. This is essentially due to their misconception that the armed conflict is also about the denial of the legitimate rights of ethnic minorities and the disregard of their concerns and aspirations by governments controlled by the majority Sinhalese. Under the majority rule, legislative and administrative powers rest with the Sinhalese. Undoubtedly, these anomalies need to be removed for settling the ETHNIC conflict. However, the reality is the conflict between Sri Lankan government forces and the LTTE is considered by the latter as a conflict between two nations or two states. It is on this basis the LTTE has been acting since the ceasefire. There is already a separate de facto state, though its territory at present covers only a portion of the North-East region claimed by the separatists as Tamil homeland.

The LTTE is, therefore, not interested in the settlement of the ethnic conflict within unified Sri Lanka. This also explains their indifference to the core political issues that should be discussed and resolved for a final political settlement. At the same time, the leadership knows quite well that the separatist conflict cannot be settled at the negotiating table without setting aside the Eelam goal. This they are not prepared to do. If the ethnic conflict is somehow settled, the basis for separation will become weak.

Contradictory positions of main political parties with regard to the peace process have also contributed to the stalemate. Ironically, in some instances these have lent support to the rebels in moving subtly along their separatist path. The main opposition party UNP when it was holding the reins of government entered into peace talks with the LTTE 7 months after signing the Cease-Fire Agreement (CFA). The LTTE was not in a hurry to start the direct talks. The government’s agenda for each of the six rounds of talks was not disclosed. Probably, there was no agenda to talk about beforehand. Even the former President was not aware of the agendas. Now on the eve of the Geneva Talks, the UNP wants to know why the present Government has so far not made a clear statement over the full agenda that they are expected to discuss at the talks. It is common knowledge that in negotiations one side cannot force its own agenda. The agenda has to be acceptable to the other side too. The LTTE, as before, is not coming for the talks as the weaker partner. When the Government unilaterally announced the dates for the CFA talks as February 15 and 16, these were rejected instantly. The LTTE spokesperson in Vanni told the media that it is not for the Government to fix the dates but the responsibility of the Norwegian facilitator/intermediary. Later the Norwegian Minister Erik Solheim in consultation with both sides announced the dates as February 22 and 23. Despite the demand from within and outside Sri Lanka for amending the CFA in order to improve its effectiveness, the LTTE has repeatedly said that it is against any changes and wants the talks to focus only on the implementation aspects of the CFA signed on 22 February 2002. The UNP must surely be aware of the possibility of LTTE withdrawing from the talks if unfavourable items are in the publicized agenda.

Donors’ misjudgment

The declaration of the Tokyo Donors’ Conference on Reconstruction and Development of Sri Lanka held on June 9 and 10, 2003 with inputs from 51 countries and 22 international organizations stated: “Assistance by the donor community must be closely linked to substantial and parallel progress in the peace process towards fulfillment of the objectives agreed by the parties in Oslo. The Conference encourages the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE to enter into discussions as early as possible on a provisional administrative structure to manage the reconstruction and development aspects of the transition process. The process would need the expeditious development of a roadmap with clear milestones indicating the path towards a mutually acceptable final political solution. With this in view, the international community intends to review and monitor the progress of the peace process closely, with particular reference to objectives and milestones including,

(a) Full compliance with the ceasefire agreement by both parties,

(b) Effective delivery mechanisms relating to development activity in the North and East,

(c) Participation of a Muslim delegation as agreed in the declaration of the fourth session of peace talks in Thailand,

(d) Parallel progress towards a final political settlement based on the principles of the Oslo Declaration,

(e) Solutions for those displaced due to the armed conflict,

(f) Effective promotion and protection of the human rights of all people,

(g) Effective inclusion of gender equity and equality in the peace building, the conflict transformation and the reconstruction process, emphasizing an equitable representation of women in political fora and at other decision-making levels,

(h) Implementation of effective measures in accordance with the UNICEF-supported Action Plan to stop underage recruitment and to facilitate the release of underage recruits and their rehabilitation and reintegration into society,

(i) Rehabilitation of former combatants and civilians in the North and East who have been disabled physically or psychologically due to the armed conflict ,

(j) Agreement by the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE on a phased, balanced and verifiable de-escalation, demilitarization and normalization process at an appropriate time in the context of arriving at a political settlement.”

It is not difficult for any one who is aware of the happenings in the North and East to admit not one resolution in the above list has been taken seriously and acted upon as stated. The joint declaration of 51 powerful countries and 22 international organizations was dismissed instantly by the LTTE as irrelevant. In an official statement issued from Kilinochchi, the LTTE said that the resolutions and declarations adopted by the donor community at the Tokyo conference were not acceptable and had no binding obligations on the organization. “The Colombo government with the active assistance of the facilitator and its international ‘tactical allies’ has formulated this strategic paper to superimpose its own agenda on the LTTE. This is unacceptable to us,” the LTTE statement said. The donors had assumed that the Oslo statement, as LTTE’s acceptance of a federal solution to the ethnic problem and the ensuing armed conflict. LTTE’s chief negotiator Anton Balasingham announced weeks after the Oslo meeting that there was no joint declaration binding the LTTE to seek a federal solution. The donor community has underestimated LTTE leader’s commitment to his final political goal.

LTTE’s statement rejecting the Tokyo declaration also referred to the government’s ‘provisional administrative structure within the laws of the land’, which fell far short of their call for “a draft framework for an innovative and effective politico-administrative structure”. The statement also complained: “The Prime Minister is taking cover behind the laws and constitution of Sri Lanka, which have effectively institutionalized racism against which the Tamil people have been struggling foe decades”. The Tamil Tigers expected the legally elected government to act unlawfully! The dilemma should be obvious to any knowledgeable person.

In the 2005 Heroes’ Day statement, the LTTE leader challenged President Mahinda Rajapakse to “come forward soon with a reasonable political framework that will satisfy the political aspirations of the Tamil people”. The dilemma here is not obvious. Given the political infighting in the south, the LTTE knows the government will not be able to produce an acceptable framework. On the other hand given the discord in the south, the present minority government has no choice but to wait for the LTTE to return to the negotiating table. Even if the LTTE for strategic reasons return, the team will not negotiate for a structure that bestows only limited governing powers to the ‘Tamil homeland’ and/or denies overriding powers to them.
Expert study on “Aid, Conflict and Peace Building”

The report*, “Aid, Conflict and Peace Building in Sri Lanka, 2000-2005” released end of January hailed by analysts as a path-breaking international study on the peace process has pointed out the shortcomings in the peace process and underlined the need to understand the LTTE’s apprehensions as well as character. Authored by Jonathan Goodhand, a lecturer in the University of London, and Bart Klem, a researcher at the Conflict Research Unit of the Clingendael Institute with Dilrukshi Fonseka, Soosaipillai I. Keethaponcalan and Shonali Sardesai, the study followed the initiative of the governments of Britain, the Netherlands and Sweden besides the World Bank and The Asia Foundation.

It describes the LTTE’s stance in dealings with the Sri Lankan Government to be that of an authority of another state while striving to become a full state actor. It states: “For the LTTE, the peace process has involved a re-balancing of strategies and tactics. But it should not be seen a complete break with the past in the sense that the armed struggle continues, only with a stronger emphasis now placed on the political sphere. The ceasefire has, in some respects, solidified the de facto state and, in the eyes of the LTTE and their supporters has moved them closer toward a de jure state. On the other hand, the CFA has also thrown up new challenges to the authority and legitimacy of the LTTE.” These are: “The re-emergence of eastern regionalism, the growing radicalization of Muslims and the demands that it conform to international norms on human rights and democracy”. The rebellion of the renegade Karuna group against the mainstream LTTE is an unforeseen setback in the struggle for independent Tamil Eelam. The resistance of the Muslims to LTTE’s hegemony is not surprising given the aggressive ways they were treated during the war as well as the ceasefire periods. The methods used to acquire absolute controlling powers, have also exposed “the LTTE’s Janus-headed character and the tensions between its military and political ‘faces’. In parallel with brutal repression of internal dissent, continued re-armament and repeated ceasefire violations, there has been a new ‘offensive’ in pursuit of international and domestic legitimacy”. Thus the study has also exposed the contradictions and dilemmas of the LTTE in its approach to Tamil Eelam. To the Tigers, the means to achieve the Eelam objective are immaterial. The study also discusses the failed strategy used by the previous UNF government and the donor community to seek peace through development. This is not surprising because peace and development are not LTTE’s prime concern in their struggle for liberating the homeland.

The study has found: “Under the guise of a ceasefire, the permissive conditions have been created for pervasive human rights abuses and criminality… The credibility of the ceasefire agreement and its monitors has become increasingly tenuous, as the number and intensity of the violations increase…” Moreover, the study recognizes the fact that “the UNF government’s policy of LTTE accommodation in many respects sent a signal to the international community to go easy on human rights issues”. According to the authors, the perception that the international community would overlook human rights issues in the interest of sustaining the peace process and avert another round of full-scale war, “played a role in undermining the credibility of the UNF government in the eyes of India and the southern electorate.” The comment that there may be a need “to consider extending the scope of the CFA to cover the full range of military actors and to strengthen its human rights component,” is relevant to the Geneva talks on the CFA.

Since the peace process was considered by the two main protagonists as the extension of the CFA between them, the peace talks too focused on matters pertaining to the creation of conditions favourable for achieving their separate objectives. In this regard the following comment is significant. “It was perceived by many that the strategy of the two sides, with Norwegian support was to forge an elite peace, ‘behind the backs’ of other stakeholders and the wider population. Because there was no ‘road map’ for peace talks, the nature of the end goal was always unclear, which created anxieties among external and internal stakeholders”. Actually the then government’s objective was to create conditions that will compel the LTTE to give up its Eelam goal, which along with LTTE’s moves to strengthen its dominance in the North-East have resulted in Tamils sacrificing their “basic rights like freedom of speech and freedom of assembly”. The donors by now should have realized aid alone matters little in conflict resolution in Sri Lanka, particularly when the conflict sought to be resolved is not about uneven development patterns, discrimination in education and employment and marginalization of minority ethnic groups under the majoritarian regime but as mentioned at the outset between two states, one presently a de facto state that is striving to become a de jure state. The ‘no war-no peace’ situation helped the LTTE initially in their aim to gain legitimacy but this became difficult later, especially after the violent campaign intensified. Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister, Lakshman Kadirgamar was a high-profile victim. The repercussion of this event has been too costly to the LTTE.
US Congress

Frank Pallone Jr, the Congressman from New Jersey introduced on February 10 a resolution in the US House of Representatives urging the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE to engage positively in the forthcoming (February 22 and 23) talks in Geneva. He is the founder and co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Sri Lanka. The resolution was meant “to convey internationally the importance Congress places on continuing a constructive peace process in Sri Lanka, Asia’s oldest democracy, and to encourage both parties to cooperate fully in order to find a fair and lasting resolution to Sri Lanka’s armed conflict”. The Congressman in his speech said: “It is important that the US continue to reject the actions and violent tactics of the Tamil Tigers and apply international pressure to request that they begin conducting the talks in a responsible and credible manner”. He also said: “Despite the two parties’ recent pledge to continue peace talks later this month in Geneva, Switzerland, the resumption of armed conflict in Sri Lanka still remains a real threat”. Recent developments give credence to the predictive comment.

The resolution passed by the US House of Representatives also urged that the Ceasefire Agreement be renegotiated in order to implement a productive agreement focusing on peace and security in Sri Lanka. This is unlikely. The resolution is as follows:

“…… the House of Representatives urges, in the strongest possible terms, the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam to

(1) engage positively in the forthcoming peace talks and to prevent a return to armed conflict in Sri Lanka;

(2) renegotiate a cease-fire agreement and implement the agreement in a productive and successful manner; and

(3) focus on rebuilding a peaceful, secure, and prosperous future for Sri Lanka.

Apparently, the US Congressmen know the dilemmas in the peace process but believe these could be overcome by vigorous international pressure. Sri Lankan Navy has said that it has intercepted trawlers carrying detonators and explosives for the LTTE less than a month before the start of Geneva Talks. Time will only tell whether international pressure on both parties to the Agreement will succeed.

In the past the international pressure and warnings had produced only limited effect not effective enough for the LTTE to renounce violence in both words and deeds, accept pluralism and democracy, respect human rights and negotiate earnestly for a reasonable political solution that does not endanger the territorial integrity, unity and sovereignty of Sri Lanka. It had also failed to compel the government to come forward with proposals to settle the ETHNIC conflict (the emphasis to be noted) or even implement speedily the declared policies and approved legislations intended to address the grievances of Tamil and Muslim communities.

Hindustan Times on February 12 reported that the Chairman of the Official Languages Commission, Raja Collure has mentioned in conversation with its Colombo correspondent: “Successive governments have failed to implement the constitutional provision in regard to the use of Tamil as the second official language. This is regrettable especially in view of the fact that Tamil had been made the second official language of the country, through the 13th amendment, 18 years ago, following the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord of July 1987. The HT report gave the following statistics with regard to the anomaly:

The Tamil-speaking population in Sri Lanka comprises Sri Lankan Tamils, Indian Origin Tamils and Muslims. Together they are 26 per cent of the island’s population. But in the 900,000-strong public service, Tamil-speakers are just 8.3 per cent. The rest are Sinhala-speakers. Out of the 36,031 employees in the Police Department, 231 are Tamils and 246 are Muslims. Since Sri Lankan Muslims are also Tamil speaking, the total number of Tamil speakers in this vital department is just 477. Wellawatte, a suburb of Colombo, is an overwhelmingly Tamil area, with 21,417 of its residents out of a total population of 29,302, being Tamil speaking. But in the Wellawatte police station, out of the 156 personnel, only 6 are Tamil speaking. The Sri Lankan armed forces are also almost completely Sinhala or Sinhala speaking. The few Tamil-speaking personnel there are Muslims, rather than Tamils as such. There is such a shortage of Tamil-speaking senior and competent officers that in the predominantly Tamil-speaking North Eastern districts, officers are asked to stay on after retirement. There are only 166 official translators in Sri Lanka. And out of these, only 58 are Tamil-speaking.

There are many other areas where the Sri Lankan government can act to give meaning to the declared intention of preserving the unity and territorial integrity of the country. The stark fact is that successive governments by their deliberate acts of commission and omission have contributed to the claim for division of the small country. The Equal Opportunity Bill initiated by the former President Chandrika Kumaratunga was considered undesirable by other Sinhalese politicians. The insensitivity of governments has contributed immensely to the disunity, turmoil and underdevelopment in Sri Lanka.

Latest confrontation

President Rajapakse in an interview with Reuters on February 13 said that he wants to solve the conflict within a unitary state rather than a federal one, and said he is looking at the United Kingdom’s model of government and devolution. “This is a small country, where you can’t have two states. I won’t allow the country to be divided,” he said. He added: “You have to give up the concept of having two nations, or two countries … There is no Tamil Eelam in Sri Lanka. There cannot be an Eelam …. They can have a police force, yes, but there cannot be two armies, two air forces, two navies.” This is a direct challenge to the separatists which will give them the incentive to continue the conflict delaying further the recovery process. There will be considerable international support for Sri Lanka, if a federal or quasi federal rather than a unitary structure is considered for resolving the ethnic conflict. The situation in the UK is different. In Sri Lanka, because of more than half a century of bitter experience with the unitary system the Tamils have no more faith in it, regardless of the extent of powers that will be devolved. Can the de facto state of the LTTE be integrated back into unitary Sri Lanka by negotiating with them? Will there be international pressure to retain the unitary system when a system based on a suitable federal model is the widely recommended one? By overemphasizing the unitary system, the Government is moving further away the peace goal.

The LTTE political wing issued a press statement on February 15, rejecting out rightly President Rajapakse’s observations in the Reuters’ interview. There was also a veiled threat to resume the war for self-rule. It said: “Homeland, nationhood and self-rule are the three basic and cardinal principles that have been guiding the LTTE in its struggle to find a peacefully negotiated political arrangement to the Tamil people, resolving the racial conflict. …. The Sinhala rulers are in a dream-psychosis that makes them wrongly perceive that their success in rejecting the Tamil homeland concept would invariably nullify the concepts of Tamil nationhood and self-rule. …. A resolution of the Tamil national problem through devolution of power within the parameters of the unitary constitution is a concept that has lost its credibility and adaptability almost fifty years ago. The Tamil people opted for a separate state only because their call for resolution of their national problem on the basis of federation was rejected. Tamil call for federalism has seen the passage of fifty years and their option for secession dates back to thirty years. Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse now goes half a century backwards and is taking shelter into a rotten unitary constitutional concept. Going the extra mile, he even wishes to place this concept before the LTTE that has under its de-facto administration major parts of the Tamil homeland”. It is puzzling what made President Rajapakse to raise such controversial matters on the eve of Geneva Talks.

Indian factor

Both Sri Lanka and India were responsible for the emergence of the LTTE as a potent force strong enough to challenge the authority of the national government and ignore the advice and warnings of powerful foreign governments and international organizations. India is dead against the establishment of a separate state in the Indian sub-continent as envisioned by the LTTE. India is also against majoritarian rule that unduly favours the majority Sinhalese. However, India wants Sri Lanka to settle the conflict by negotiating with the diehard LTTE and has no qualms with Norway’s role as a peace facilitator or even with the intimidation of the United States intended to avert resumption of the full-scale war but has opted not to play any direct role in the peace process. India’s dilemmas are quite different arising largely from her bitter experience when she tried to enforce peace in North-East Sri Lanka by sending the Indian army as Peace Keeping Force and the revulsion at LTTE’s role in the assassination of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. The horrid killing of illustrious Indian leader (grandson of the first Prime Minister of independent India, Jawaharlal Nehru) on Indian soil led to the proscription of the Tamil liberation movement. The ban still remains in force.

President Mahinda Rajapakse soon after taking control of the reins of the Presidency visited India as guest of the Indian government. He had meetings with the President, Prime Minister and other top leaders December last year. This was also his first overseas call as head of state. There was high expectation in Sri Lanka, particularly in the South of a possible change in India’s policy of non-direct involvement in the resolution of the armed conflict.

Many Sri Lankans hoped that India would at least join the four international co-chairs watching the Sri Lankan peace process – the United States, the European Union, Japan and Norway. India’s intent not to change her stand was clear from the joint statement issued in New Delhi at the end of the formal talks. This was consistent with the pre-visit prediction of a LTTE ideologue in Vanni. Referring to the expected final settlement of the conflict in Sri Lanka, the joint statement avoided any reference to the word unitary notwithstanding President Rajapakse’s fervor for it. It said: “The President of Sri Lanka briefed the Indian leadership on his approach to the peace process to achieve maximum devolution which preserves the unity and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka. The two sides agreed that an enduring solution can emerge only through internal political processes that promote consensus and reconciliation. India reiterated its support for a process of seeking a negotiated political settlement acceptable to all sections of Sri Lankan society within the framework of an undivided Sri Lanka and consistent with democracy, pluralism and respect for human rights. India continues to maintain an abiding interest in the security of Sri Lanka and remains committed to her unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity. The Indian side expressed the hope that a political settlement of the ethnic issue based on devolution, openness, transparency and inclusivity would emerge through negotiations between the parties concerned, so as to ensure a peaceful and bright future for all Sri Lankans in an undivided and democratic Sri Lanka.”

Indian analysts have interpreted the above as an acknowledgment of the need for federalism as a solution. The recognition that “an enduring solution can emerge only through internal political processes” has the message that India has no intention of getting directly involved in the peace process. This is not the first time India has announced the kind of settlement she desires, the same words and phrases used here have been repeated several times before like a mantra. But what is puzzling is the approach suggested to settle the ethnic/separatist conflict. If what is meant by “negotiations between parties concerned” refer to the Government and the LTTE which is the case if the main issue is separation, then India should know from her experience in Kashmir this cannot be settled by mutual agreement. On the other hand the word ‘inclusivity’ makes sense if the aim is the resolution of the ethnic conflict. But in this case the LTTE will not agree to join the talks merely as another internal stakeholder along with other parties. India as a major external stakeholder cannot afford to keep aloof for ever without risking her interest.

The LTTE is depending on the support of the Tamil nationalistic parties in Tamil Nadu which are currently partners in the multi-party coalition government in New Delhi. The LTTE’s ideologue, KV Balakumaran, in an interview given on the eve of President Rajapakse’s visit to India said, with the growing importance of regionalism in India, and the increasing clout of regional parties in the central cabinet of ministers in New Delhi, the Government of India will have to listen to them. Some (Sri Lankan) Tamils were inclined to think that they would not be able to achieve their objectives unless they kowtowed to India, but these people were wrong because their fears were based on an “exaggerated” notion of India’s power, he said.

“The Indian government is not like what we think. Today, it is not as strong as it was before,” he asserted. Recent Indian governments had been made up of many parties and many of these were regional parties, voicing regional sentiments, he pointed out. He said that the government of India would take note of the warning of the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) leader Vaiko, that Tamil Nadu could become a “Kashmir” if New Delhi acted against the interests of the Sri Lankan Tamils. Vaiko’s support to the LTTE is well known and there is no need to discuss it in detail.

TamilNet on January 7 reported that Dr. Ramdoss leader of Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) told Sri Lanka’s Leader of Upcountry People’s Front (UPF), P. Chandrasekaran, “while the Tamil National struggle in Sri Lanka has assumed new dimensions in its progress towards its goal, parties in Tamil Nadu are spiritually bound to provide unflinching support to Eelam Tamils. We are mobilizing our supporters in India to show our strength and unequivocally express our support”.

An interesting analysis of the possible outcomes of the visible support extended by some politicians in Tamil Nadu to the LTTE that is fighting for a separate Tamil state is worth mentioning here. Many Sinhalese have long held the view that Tamil Nadu is a threat to the island and on this false premise Sinhalese politicians successfully secured the votes of the Sinhalese masses in the general elections. And this also contributed to keep the minority Tamils politically weak. The Sri Lankan Tamils cannot risk complicating the ethnic problem further by banking on the support of regional Tamil political parties such as the DMK, the MDMK and the PMK. Even the present Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu Ms Jayalalitha whose party the AIDMK does not support the LTTE chose to cancel an appointment with President Mahinda Rajapakse when he toured India. The forthcoming elections in Tamil Nadu must have also influenced her decision. The pro-LTTE parties that are partners in the present coalition government have successfully lobbied to withhold the proposed Indo Lanka Defence Agreement. There is also the perception that the support for LTTE’s armed struggle for Tamil Eelam is motivated by the power struggle in Tamil Nadu. There is, however, the key question regarding the possible consequences of their support for the armed struggle for separation, a goal rejected by India and the international community. Do the supporters in Tamil Nadu want to prolong the suffering and misery of the Tamils in Sri Lanka by extending unqualified support for the separatist struggle? It will be fruitful, if they can influence their associates to accept a federal system.

However, the support of Tamil Nadu will certainly increase if no political solution is forthcoming from the Sri Lankan Government. The latest confrontation between the Sri Lankan President and the LTTE mentioned earlier will definitely enhance the support for the LTTE. The Tamil Nadu factor should not be ignored by the Sri Lankan government. Tamil Nadu cannot oppose the proposal for a political settlement, if the set of powers to be devolved are similar to that of its state. If Tamil Nadu rejects a devolution package acceptable to the Union Government, this will stir up tension between the centre and the region which will not be in the interest of Tamil Nadu or India.

With the internationalization of the peace process and the special interest of United States in the peaceful resolution of the conflict(s) in Sri Lanka, there is now an opportunity for Sri Lanka to settle her twin conflicts as desired by all peace loving citizens and the international community within united Sri Lanka. Without further delay, the work on preparing a suitable political framework for devolving powers should begin in earnest in consultation with all parties committed to permanent peace, minority rights, ethnic harmony and national unity. The concerns and rights of Tamils and Muslims as well as the causes of the conflict must be given due consideration. This can be assured by obtaining expert assistance. This time the exercise should not be along the lines followed in preparing the 1972 and 1978 constitutions. It was mainly the effort of politicians. Although a new constitution to replace the 1978 constitution was recognized more than a decade ago, because of some attraction to party leaders it is enduring. The direct approach is the way to avoid getting stuck again in the dilemmas discussed above. Arguments and threats will not bring peace to the country that has remained peaceful until the emergence of chauvinistic forces after independence. The people who have suffered for more than two decades and the country cannot afford to incur further suffering and losses and forego economic growth and development in crucial areas.
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• Joint project of Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Swedish International Development Agency, The Asia Foundation, Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and World Bank.

Published by The Asia Foundation, Rajakeeya Mawatha, Colombo 7, Sri Lanka. www.asiafoundation.org

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One Comment

  1. This is a sensible analysis of the coflict and the political forces involved in it. Even though the conflict seems so complex on the surface I do’t think it is beyond human ingenuity.

    If at the negotiations attempt is made to “win the case for one’s client irrespective of the cost to the opponent” we cannot see anything laudable coming out of it.

    The oldest democracy in Asia still struggling to rise above this issue shows that political thinkers and scientists still have to invent ways of bringing maturity to world democracies that fail to show growth and development that match their age in years.

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