Opinion and Editorial

Fresh push for peace?

Filed on February 2, 2004

WE HAVE it on the authority of the Sri Lankan presidentís defence spokesman that the note she recently sent to the Tamil Tigers dealt with the ceasefire, contrary to speculation in government circles that it intimated her plan to take over the stalled peace process.

Still, the very fact that Chandrika Kumaratunga is communicating with the rebels is an interesting development to say the least. Till recently there seemed to be no love lost between the LTTE and the president, the present political deadlock itself being a product of their mutual antipathy. The justification given by Kumaratunga for her abrupt takeover of three crucial portfolios was that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe was making concessions without taking security interests into consideration. But having precipitated a crisis that shows no signs of a resolution and indirectly depriving her country of a potential peace bonanza worth several billion dollars, the president appears to be impatient for some sort of a breakthrough. Hence the decision to establish a link to the Tigers, backdoor or otherwise.

Whatever the presidentís real motive, any forward movement in the peace process would be a positive development from the perspective of ordinary Sri Lankans. The rebels have said that they are willing to talk with anyone who had a mandate from the people and the power to negotiate. The past two years of unbroken peace on the island have been a kind of endurance test for the peace process, providing Colombo with the necessary confidence to deal with the LTTE as and when negotiations resume. Hopefully, by that time, Sri Lankaís prime minister and president too will have buried the hatchet with a view to taking the peace process to its logical conclusion.

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