By Dr. S. Narapalasingam
The head of the Government delegation at the Geneva Talks and Health and Nutrition Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva, speaking at a seminar on the peace talks held at the Badulla library auditorium on March 4 said, achieving permanent peace in the country would not be an easy task. But he did not elaborate on the reasons for the difficulty. These vary widely depending on the perception of the commentators and stakeholders. The political leaders do not wish to acknowledge publicly the real reasons and the challenges these entail. By regarding the ongoing conflict between the Sri Lankan State and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) as a straightforward dispute concerning the rights and aspirations of minority Tamils, the difficulties resulting from the developments since the start of the war that are threatening to keep the country in a perpetual volatile state are being ignored. The resolution of the armed conflict is, therefore, more difficult than the prewar ethnic conflict.
The relevance of the past and the proposed talks between the GoSL and the LTTE to the final settlement of the armed conflict is questionable. The former has and will approach the talks on political issues from the standpoint of resolving the ethnic conflict. The latter will take a different approach based on the three tenets viz. Homeland, Nationhood and Self-rule.
[SL President Mr. Mahinda Rajapakse in deliberations with the JHU, the all monks Buddhist nationalist Party, Pic by TamilNet]
These concepts have been rejected unreservedly by President Mahinda Rajapakse. In an interview with Reuters ahead of the February 22-23 Geneva Talks, he said: “You have to give up the concept of having two nations or two states …. There is no Tamil Eelam in Sri Lanka. There cannot be an Eelam.” The LTTE straightaway rejected President’s notion of ‘one nation and one unitary state’. The LTTE in the statement issued in response to the rejection of their basic concept of ‘Tamil homeland’ said: “Homeland, nationhood and self-rule are the three basic and cardinal principles that have been guiding the LTTE in its struggle to find peacefully a negotiated political arrangement ……. If Colombo adopts a political stand ruling out the Tamil Homeland concept and insists on a resolution to conflict within the ‘Sinhala’ constitution, the LTTE would be left with no alternative other than to endeavour hard to respond effectively to the Tamil call for self-rule”. The statement also said: “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.” The best way to describe the two irreconcilable stands is to quote LTTE’s ideologue Anton Balasingham. “Both the parties are living in different ideological universes.”
Clash of nationalisms
The transformation of the ethnic conflict into the struggle for a separate Tamil state conforms to the nationalist ideology of the supreme leader and other ideologues in the LTTE. The ongoing struggle has also been transformed into a Tamil national movement. The LTTE steadfastly holds the view that the Tamils constitute a separate nation while the Sinhalese belong to a different nation.
[Swiss-Tamils welcome members of the LTTE delegation at a Geneva cultural event, Pic by TamilNet]
Mohan Guruswamy, Chairman, Centre for Policy Alternatives, New Delhi has described nationalism as a double-edged sword. “It is a benign yet potent force when it is expressed as a sense of belonging to a community of people defined by a territory and the history that goes with it. But when it is expressed as a sense of community of a shared ethnicity, religion or imagined history, it often becomes corrosive and divisive. Unfortunately nationalism is increasingly defined in terms of the latter and recent instances abound. India has largely succeeded in forging nationalism on the basis of geography and a shared perception of history”. Sri Lanka has the misfortune of embracing the corrosive and divisive edge of nationalism. The Sinhalese and Tamil nationalisms are at war. The clash of two ideologies or nationalisms lies beneath the armed conflict. Negotiations to settle the latter within United Sri Lanka can be useful only if the negotiating parties do not cling on to their nationalisms. At present, powerful forces on either side are holding on to the parochial concept of nationalism.
Dr. Ayesha Siddiqa has warned (Daily Times, Mar 8th) little hope of enduring peace nless the Sri Lankan leaders “undo the State’s post-colonial character and replace it with a more representative polity. Unfortunately, some key players lack the capacity for imaginative thinking and will continue to insist on an unworkable political option until the country becomes completely ungovernable.” The analyst has quite justifiably said if Sinhalese and Tamil nationalisms continue to sway decisions, future talks between President Mahinda Rajapakse’s team and the LTTE will represent a tactical rather than a strategic shift in policy. This is to be expected particularly when the Government depends on the support of Sinhalese nationalistic groups to avoid defeat in the Parliament.
When the LTTE mentions ‘a negotiated political arrangement’, it is not in relation to the ethnic problem but to a spatial arrangement where the two ideologies can exist without clashing. But the ground realities are such that it is very doubtful any such arrangement will yield permanent peace. Both parties to the conflict have to come down to the real world to have any useful discussion on a viable political settlement that will ensure lasting peace.
Concerns of minorities outside the N-E
Western People’s Front (WPF) Leader Mano Ganeshan following the All Party Conference (APC) on March 6 said in a statement on March 8, “the ethnic issue cannot be restricted only to the North and the East”. Clarifying his earlier statement at the APC he said that the Tamils of recent Indian origin have the right to send a separate delegation to the ‘Peace Talks’ but “atthe moment we shall reserve it for the future”. He also stated: “WPF does not wish to jeopardize the ongoing talks with further complications but that does not mean that we will maintain a permanent silence on the issues of the Tamils living in the south, especially in the Western and Upcountry regions. If the Muslim community considers itself as a separate entity, that’s their business. We cannot call them Tamils just because they too speak Tamil language. This is because the Muslim community does not wish to be called so. They have their right towards separate identity and separate representation at the talks”.
[Mano Ganesan at a protest in Colombo in January over indiscriminate arrests of Tamils – Pic by TamilNet]
Mano Ganeshan has a clear understanding of LTTE’s aim and the underlying tenets. This is evident from the following remark. “LTTE does not directly represent the Tamils in the south and especially the Tamils of recent Indian origin. This is because of the fact that LTTE’s political concept is based on their homeland policy. Whether we agree or not that’s their basic position. LTTE’s Tamil homeland does not extend to the south. Therefore the peace talks are restricted to the north and the east. But the ethnic issue cannot be restricted only to the north and the east. Western Peoples Front demands that the APC should also look into the issues of the Tamils living in the south, while giving foremost consideration to the North-East issues”. The above observations support the distinction emphasized by this writer between the ethnic issue and the struggle for a separate autonomous state comprising the present Northern and Eastern provinces.
The suggestion that the APC should also consider the problems of the Tamils outside the North and East is logical. But it is absurd to expect the LTTE to extend the talks to include subjects that the rebel leader has at the very beginning declared as not his concern. The issue central to LTTE’s armed struggle is land rights. Hence, the Muslims in the Northeast are demanding for a separate Muslim delegation at the talks with the LTTE. There are regions where the majority of the residents are Muslims. Despite the 2003 Tokyo Donor Conference Declaration that also recommended a separate Muslim delegation in future ‘Peace Talks’, the LTTE has said the invitation will be extended at the stage when issues concerning the Muslims in the North-East are discussed.
[Mr.John Cushnahan , Chief Observer for the EU Election Observer Mission (EOM) hand over his final Report regarding the Presidential Election held last year to the S.L.M.C. National Leader Rauff Hakeem at his residence on March 7th-Pic by SLMC Media Unit]
However, the Muslim leaders are insisting that their delegation should be at the Talks right away. The Muslim leaders are anxious to join the talks early as a third partner. The Muslim Civil Society representatives and the political leadership after discussions at a meeting on March 7 in Colombo reiterated their demand. Minister Ferial Ashraff was a Government delegate at the Geneva Talks and in the earlier talks with the LTTE, Rauf Hakim the SLMC leader who was a Minister then participated also as a Government delegate. This arrangement is not satisfactory in view of their special concerns for the future of Muslims in the Eastern Province.
Divisive political culture
It is also the country’s conflict-ridden political culture that makes one to be sceptical about reaching a consensus on the ethnic issue at the APC. There are numerous instances that can be cited to demonstrate the keenness of the political parties to scuttle efforts towards resolution of national issues mainly for denying the ruling party political advantage. The failed attempt to amend the Constitution in 2000 is a case in point. Even the terrible disaster that struck the island following the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami killing more than 30,000 persons and destroying several towns and villages failed to bring about the urgently needed change in the ethos of parties competing for power. The LTTE too was concerned more about the ultimate relief provider than the dispensation of emergency supplies to the tsunami victims. Considerable work has been and is being done in the affected areas in the North and the East by the TRO, a registered organization allied to the LTTE.
Eric Schwartz, the United Nations Deputy Special Envoy for Tsunami Recovery working alongside former President Bill Clinton during his recent visit to India called it “unfortunate” that Sri Lankan leaders did not rise above their political differences to seize the opportunity for peace after the December 2004 tragedy ravaged the country. He praised India’s government for its efforts to rebuild following the disaster. “Recovery assistance can improve the climate somewhat, but it’s not going to drive politics. What the tsunami did do – the tsunami itself, not the assistance – provide a window for governments and opposition movements to recalibrate their priorities, recognize what was really important, and make some very difficult but important decisions about how to move forward,” said Schwartz.
The joint mechanism – Post Tsunami Operational Management Structure, or PTOMS – was meant to ensure the fair distribution of tsunami aid across ethnic and geographic lines, including devastated rebel-held areas, and to serve as the framework for future peace talks. Former President Chandrika Kumaratunga took a special interest in the PTOMS agreement with the LTTE. But opposition to this arrangement within the government, prevented the Sri Lankans from achieving the same success as the Indonesians. Schwartz was referring to the northern Indonesian province of Aceh, which had also been locked in years of fighting between separatist insurgents and the government. After the tsunami devastated the province; the two sides finally
signed a peace accord.
The inability to a consensus on the selection of the sixth nominee to the Constitutional Council as per the 17th Amendment is another instance of neglect of vital national interest. The simmering controversy is due to a row among the minority parties. Because of this lapse, several independent commissions responsible for appointing officers to key posts and the proper functioning of important national institutions remain idle. If the 17th Amendment itself is flawed as claimed by analysts, it is the responsibility of the legislators to rectify the defects. Some have even suggested to scrap the Amendment, as it has now become an impediment to the administrative system. ‘Big Talk – No Action’ seems to be another facet of the country’s political culture.
The veteran politician and President of the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) V. Anandasangaree in his letter addressed to the JVP leaders soliciting their support for a solution to the ethnic problem based on the Indian model has said: “The time has now come for all the political parties and the people to forget all their political and other differences and to get together to help to liberate the Tamils from the iron clutches of the LTTE. Let it not appear that one ethnic group grants the rights to the other ethnic groups. It should appear as if all ethnic groups share power and enjoy equal rights irrespective of whatever ethnic or religious group, one may belong to”. He has also said, “if agreed to by the JVP, solution can be found in a very short period” and “the support of the international community will be available to pressurize the LTTE to accept this”. The entire world wants a United Sri Lanka and is against separation. He has said that the JVP holds the key to the widely acceptable solution to the ethnic conflict. If his solemn appeal does not move the JVP dogmatists towards pragmatism, nothing else will make them to give up their ideological stand.
Rejecting the Daily Mirror March 13 report – ‘JVP may opt for Indian model of federalism’, the party reconfirmed its stand for “a viable, vibrant, multi-ethnic, multicultural, multi-religious democratic society in a unitary state with full democratic rights of all individuals”. According to the JVP, “the main problem
in Sri Lanka today for Tamils, Muslims and Sinhalese and others alike is the totalitarian control of the LTTE in its self-proclaimed traditional homelands where it has chased away all non Tamil nationalities and has killed off all non- LTTE Tamil opposition”. What a narrow view of the real situation in the country that is already divided ethnically as a result of more than half a century of divisive opportunistic politics losing the common national identity! Apparently, they think by turning the clock back the discrimination, socio-economic neglect and political alienation experienced by the Tamils under the same unitary political system could be disregarded. JVP’s collaborator, the Patriotic National Movement (PNM) in a media statement accused the Norwegian Peace Facilitators of facilitating the “divisive cause of establishing a separate state of Eelam in Sri Lanka”. Paradoxically, it is the JVP, JHU and PNM that are facilitating a division of the country by giving pretext for the LTTE to continue the struggle for a separate state in the North-East.
Dr. R. Narendran in his analysis (TamilWeek of March 12, 2006) has also expressed similar concerns about the plight of the Tamils and the dismal future that lies ahead both for the present and future generations, if nothing is done to halt the current disturbing happenings in the North-East. He has said: “The grave problems the Tamils confront today are centered on the LTTE and its actions. The GOSL and its actions are less of a problem to the Tamils at present. This is a sad reality that has to be accepted, confronted, dissected and resolved at the earliest. LTTE, the liberator has transformed itself over time into the predator. The predator of old, the GOSL – hopefully has turned a new leaf permanently – has become a saviour of sorts. These are facts that have to be accepted and dealt, however bitter it may taste to many Tamils, if we are to resolve our problems quickly and pragmatically. We have to as a matter of urgency re-build our lives and our land, while reclaiming our culture. The damage to our psyche as individuals and a people has been immense and will take decades of painstaking efforts to over come”.
He has listed the issues that need to be addressed immediately for bringing about normalcy and attitudinal change in the society. The destructive methods used in prosecuting the Eelam war had harmed cultural values and in general narrowed the attitude of the society. Development in key areas remain neglected for decades as a result of the protracted conflict. Recognizing the initial difficulties in achieving the desired aims, he has suggested “an international peace keeping mission with wide powers and a military arm to keep the peace in the North and East, and protect civilians, until normalcy returns”. With regard to political settlement, he has suggested two moves. One is “the initiation of an irreversible process of political reform in Sri Lanka, including constitutional changes that would ensure wide devolution of powers to the periphery and prevent the recurrence of the sadism, inhumanity and injustice of the past”. This can be achieved, if Anandasangaree’s realistic proposal is accepted by the southern polity. Many are confident that the international community will welcome constitutional changes based on the Indian model with central and regional administrations.
However, besides the JVP that has not yet declared its support for such a constitutional change, the LTTE is not going to lie low and see the outcome of this move. Both the JVP and the LTTE are likely to be indirect partners in wrecking moves towards a constitutional settlement. It was not just a flip remark when the LTTE ideologue Anton Balasingham said both JVP and JHU are the LTTE’s allies. The suggestions made to dismantle “all militant groups including the LTTE” and “the structures of governance established by the LTTE in the Vanni and parts of the East” are easily said than done. These require greater foreign involvement than a peace keeping mission, which for political reasons neither the Sri Lankan nor the Indian government would want. The JVP has reiterated its opposition to Norway’s role as facilitator of the peace process. The U.S.A, India and rest of the international community have endorsed the facilitation efforts of Norway. JVP’s ideology will not permit any direct involvement of foreign powers in the settlement of the conflict. JVP strongly opposed the Indian Peace Keeping Force along with the LTTE, albeit their different motives. The ‘patriotic’ anti-Indian campaign in the south in the late 1980s was led by the JVP without realizing the dire consequences.
Dr. Narendran has also said, “It is time that the Tamils and their problems are made the centre-piece of any future discussions. We have skirted and gone around this central issue for too long. The LTTE should be talking about the Tamils and their problems. The GOSL should be talking about the Tamils and their problems.
Every one in Sri Lanka and the Sri Lankan Diaspora should be talking about the Tamils and their problems. This should be an all inclusive exercise on the Tamils and their problems in Sri Lanka. This would be democratic, decent, humane and sane. The LTTE is not the Tamils. The GOSL is not Sri Lanka or the Sinhala people”. Will the LTTE and the Eelamists make the long-standing problems of the Tamils the central issue? There has to be sea change in attitude for this to happen. Regarding the remark “The international community should also make us talk about the Tamils and their problems, without being lured into the trap of talking about the LTTE, the GOSL and their problems” – one may add that the international community should also press for the constitutional changes required for ensuring ‘unity in diversity’ and equal rights to all communities. The concept of ‘union of regions’ should also underpin the changes to secure a United Sri Lanka.
Dr. Narendran has suggested that “the international community should convince if possible and force, if not, the GOSL and the LTTE to take up these issues”. He has also suggested that “all future talks should be structured to confront and resolve these issues. The participation at these talks should be widened to include Tamils other than those from the LTTE or TNA (Tamil National Alliance), the Muslims and respected representatives of the Sinhala people at large”. The ideal forum for discussing the issues relevant to the ethnic conflict as against the separatist conflict is the APC. There is no reason why the APC should not discuss and reach consensus on the political issues without upsetting the direct talks between the GoSL and the LTTE. Failure to reach a consensus would strengthen LTTE’s case for separation. This the JVP must realize early to avoid the collapse of the APC. The two radical groups on either side of the ethnic divide, both the products of the divisive educational system and racial politics hold jointly the key to peaceful settlement of the conflict that has killed more than 64,000 persons lives and inflicted enormous suffering to the millions affected by the war in different ways.
Internationalization of the Tamil cause after the 1983 anti-Tamil pogrom succeeded in drawing attention to the desperate predicament of the minority Tamils in Sri Lanka. Unfortunately, the subsequent developments on the war front, regarded by some countries as terrorist acts directed against unarmed political opponents, including elected national leaders and military informants and collaborators in the community diverted the attention of the international community to the negative aspects of the armed struggle. The abhorrence for suicide bombings increased sharply after the September 11, 2001 (9/11) devastating attacks in the U.S.A by airplane hijackers. The U.S. government has repeatedly asked the LTTE to renounce violence ‘in words and deeds’ and seek a mutually acceptable settlement to the conflict that is also fair to all the communities in Sri Lanka.
The international community on the whole believed in the stated objectives of the ceasefire. The peace efforts were to focus initially on creating conditions conducive for negotiations and explore suitable governing structure for determining the structure of final political settlement. With their hidden agendas, time was not important to either side as both believed time would help the realization of their separate objectives. The then coalition government with UNP as the principal partner had no intention of amending the present Constitution. The main attraction for those aspiring to be the President of the country is the extensive executive powers bestowed by the 1978 Constitution to the incumbent as Head of State, Head of Government and Commander in chief of the armed forces.
The Government and the donor community thought, sustained conditions of near normalcy and widespread benefits of development (peace dividend) would result in the LTTE abandoning the separatist goal in favour of a suitable federal system that retains the integrity of the island as one united sovereign State. It is important to note though the then government accepted in principle a federal solution, it did not come up with any draft structure for the devolution of powers. At the same time, the LTTE was conscious of the plans of the government to make separation difficult internally and externally. The various steps taken by the LTTE to isolate the people from the government and press for the restoration of normalcy in the government-controlled areas in the North-East as stated in the CFA were intended to extend its control over the people. But when the desired developments did not happen, the LTTE considered the peace process to be a ‘peace trap’. The various moves taken since early 2003, particularly after the preliminary consultative donors meeting held in Washington D.C. prior to the June Tokyo Donors’ Conference were aimed at avoiding this ‘trap’.
The apparent opposition to the LTTE is largely due to the various coercive practices used in violation of human rights, democratic principles and, of course, the Cease-Fire Agreement (CFA). The abduction and conscription of children to augment the size of the militia has been a major issue condemned by UNICEF and international human rights organizations. Strangely, the objection is not very widespread in the Tamil community, particularly in the diaspora. The dilemma here is due to inadequate volunteers to maintain a strong fighting force. Many Tamils are aware of the fact that without the LTTE the community would not have the clout that it has now to press for an equitable power-sharing arrangement. Unfortunately, the LTTE leader seems to believe that ‘liberation must not be got from a platter’; it has to be won through struggle and sacrifice.
The New York-based Human Rights Watch in a 45-page (March 2006) report titled – “Funding the Final War: LTTE Intimidation and Extortion in the Tamil Diaspora” – has charged that the LTTE representatives and pro-LTTE groups are using unlawful pressure among Tamil communities in Canada, Britain and other Western countries to secure financial pledges for the Eelam war. The LTTE has dismissed the report as malicious material intended to discredit the organization.
Besides the absolute dependence on violence for achieving political objective, generally believed to be the liberation of Tamils from Sinhala domination, the other problem that is worrying moderate Tamils is the violence directed against fellow members of the community for the purpose of safeguarding the proclaimed status as the sole representatives of Tamils and ensuring that the LTTE is the sole supreme authority to govern the ‘Tamil homeland’. Thus, the violent methods (objectionable by international norms) and considerable resources used in the struggle are for achieving dual aims. These also have necessitates mobilization of additional manpower (shortfall met by child recruits) and financial resources. Here too the methods used have been condemned by various human rights organizations.
Based on the recent studies of Goodhand, Klem et al, in Aid, Conflict and Peace Building in Sri Lanka 2002-2005 and Adam Burke and Anthea Mulakala in Donors and Peace Building-2000-2005 – (The Asia Foundation, Colombo, 2005), PK Balachandran(Hindustan Times special correspondent in Colombo) in his article in the February 6, 2006 issue of Hindustan Times has explained concisely “Why donors failed to bring peace to Sri Lanka”. The main reason for the failure is that the donors have not addressed the political issues. He has said: “The donors expected economic inputs and macro level economic reform to trigger political change as desired by the Western world. But the changes never happened. In some ways, these external inputs even helped reinforce the existing political divide and accentuate the ethnic conflict”. (These had no positive effect on removing the causes of the ethnic conflict which has been transformed into the separatist conflict by the LTTE). The quotes – “The development cart has been put before the political horse” and “Economic imperatives were never likely to override political and strategic interests in a conflict that is primarily about governance and the nature of the state,” attributed to Goodhand, Klem et al, are very relevant to understand the causes of the failure.
The difference between the large and the small donors with regard to the peace process has also been explained. The International Financial Institutions (IFIs) and Japan are Sri Lanka’s largest donors. According to Adam Burke and Anthea Mulakala these large donors account for 75 to 80 per cent of the aid flows into Sri Lanka. “And because these large donors have been largely indifferent to the conflict in the island and its social, economic, and political underpinnings, foreign aid has not had a significant impact on the pattern of governance and the peace process.” Their plans are based on the theory that greater deregulation and economic openness will eventually remove the “impediment” of ethnic conflict. Apparently, the IFIs tried to bring about policy changes in the government of Sri Lanka towards this end. “But this approach was not founded on a correct appreciation of ground realities and ground level popular concerns.”
The ground realities are understood differently by various parties. This is also due to the mistaken belief that the armed struggle is to win the rights and political power denied to the Tamils by the majoritarian rule. The system also neglected the concerns and aspirations of the minority Tamils in Sri Lanka. Moreover, LTTE’s gains as a result of waging the war for separation are overlooked in assessing the ground realities. Importantly, the LTTE has acquired almost all the trappings of an emergent state with its own army and navy besides the other less problematic establishments. An air wing too is said to be in the process of emerging. The LTTE has promulgated a “Tamil Eelam Lands Act” covering land administration in rebel-held areas. The laws to govern land rights and land distribution came into force on March 10, 2006. Under these laws, the LTTE has the right to acquire land for “public purposes”; to distribute land among the landless; re-allocate refugees’ lands to relatives of their choice; and to fix land prices. The other pieces of rebel legislation issued in the past include the “Tamil Eelam Penal Code” and the “Tamil Eelam Civil Code” promulgated in 1994. More recently, a “prescribed code” for the use of the “Tamil Eelam flag” was announced. A law college and several courts function in the LTTE-controlled areas in the North and East. A Tamil Eelam Police is assisting in the enforcement of law and order. The sacrifices of the cadres cannot be overlooked. Nearly 18,000 youths have died in the struggle for Tamil Eelam. An amended unitary state cannot be the reward for their sacrifices.
The two systems functioning in parts of North-East and elsewhere in Sri Lanka have little in common and it impossible to accommodate them within an established state tied to a democratic political system. Even in a federal system there cannot be two separate armies and navies under different commands. In federal countries or union of regions, there are different regiments but all are under one central command. To what extent the LTTE will agree to dismantle its structures and system it has put in place for a negotiated political settlement? Very little unless the circumstances are such there is no choice but to submit.
Cyprus an island in the Mediterranean Sea, south of Turkey split into two states when the Turkish Cypriots proclaimed self-rule on 13 February 1975 and independence in 1983. There have been continuous tensions between the Greek Cypriot majority and Turkish Cypriot minority. But it was the military intervention of Turkey in the wake of the Greek-sponsored attempt to seize the Cyprus government that resulted in the division. The unilateral declarations of self-rule and independence are recognized only by Turkey. Although there is no country at present to play similar role in the conflict in Sri Lanka, the parties committed to preserve Sri Lanka as one united country should not by default create a situation where the division becomes inevitable. Endless bickering that delays the urgently needed move to change the present constitution could create such a situation.
The need for the international community to take a more effective role in the peace process also arises from this entanglement. Instead of focusing mainly on the violations of human rights, child abductions and conscriptions and ‘peace talks’ that as explained before will lead nowhere, not even building confidence, concerted efforts should be made to urge the political parties to take steps to start without delay the process of reforming the constitution to enable all communities to share power equitably, safeguard their interests and fulfill their aspirations.
[The writer is Former Additional Deputy Secretary to the Treasury, Sri Lanka and UN Advisor, Development Economics/Planning]