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Tamilnation > Struggle for Tamil Eelam > Conflict Resolution - Tamil Eelam - Sri Lanka > Norwegian Peace Initiative > Ceasefire Agreement & Lifting of Ban on LTTE > Chandrika Resents Truce

Norwegian Peace Initiative

Chandrika Resents Truce
Gulf News 1 March 2002

Chandrika Kumaratunga sent her formal response on the ceasefire agreement signed between the government and northern rebels by slamming Norway's elevated status in the peace process and a call for the country's sovereignty to be protected at all costs.

In a letter to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, President Kumaratunga reiterated her complaint that she was not properly consulted before Wickremesinghe committed the Colombo government to a truce accord signed by Tamil Tigers (LTTE) leader Velupillai Prabhakaran. She lamented that her advice would have helped reach bi-partisan consensus.

She hit out at Norway's efforts to upgrade itself from the role for which they were first invited by her government as that of a facilitator "to a mediator and arbitrator" referring to the fact that Oslo has been given the "final authority" on the interpretation of the ceasefire agreement.

Kumaratunga also criticised the powers given to Norway through a monitoring mission Oslo would appoint in demarcating "lines of control" within Sri Lanka that would separate government-held areas and rebel-held areas.

Drawing a parallel with the line-of-control that has caused continuous disputes in Kashmir between India and Pakistan, she said that it was the first time since the island's independence in 1948 that a foreign nation was able to decide on boundaries within Sri Lanka.

The letter was reportedly drafted by her former foreign minister Lakshman Kadirgamar after a party committee which included former media minister Mangala Samaraweera, ex-UN envoy and senior lawyer H.L. de Silva, and former ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Javed Yusuf studied the clauses over five days since Wickremesinghe handed over the agreement to the president.

Kumaratunga made several other observations in the agreement, one of which was to tell the prime minister that he should have fixed a date for the commencement of negotiations with the LTTE, without leaving that open.

Kumaratunga appeared to be at pains to show that she was not against the peace process aimed at ending 20 years of fighting between the Colombo government and the LTTE, but equally showed dissent at the rush at signing the truce accord, and some of the provisions it contains.

Her letter came hot on the heels of a controversy when local media reported her saying at a local body election rally that she could abrogate the truce accord with "one stroke of the pen" by giving instructions to the army commander.

Kumaratunga's office has denied she said so, while admitting that she did express reservations about the accord.

In her letter to Wickremesinghe, Kumaratunga welcomes some aspects of the accord such as the lifting of the economic embargo on LTTE-held areas, and the granting of permission for 24-hour fishing in the northern waters.

She, however, goes on to criticise the government's surrender of the exercise of sovereignty in the seas where it could not get the LTTE to agree on the navy's right to intercept rebel boats.

Pointing to the separate 'letter of intent' the government issued, insisting on the navy's right to search rebel boats, Kumaratunga says that such a statement has no force of law when it is outside the accord.


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