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Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
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Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."
Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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Tamilnation > Struggle for Tamil Eelam > Conflict Resolution - Tamil Eelam - Sri Lanka > Norwegian Peace Initiative > Third Session of Peace Talks in Oslo & Aftermath Brahmin owned Hindu questions: Another false dawn?

Norwegian Peace Initiative

Another false dawn?
Source: Editorial, Brahmin Owned Hindu, 7 December 2002

THE DECISION BY the Sri Lankan Government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to explore a political situation founded on internal self-determination based on a federal structure and not envisaging a division of the island does appear to constitute a breakthrough in the peace process.

A most noteworthy aspect of this development is that the LTTE appears to have stepped back from its maximalist demand for an independent homeland outside the framework of a united Sri Lanka though it is certainly too soon to believe that it has dropped this demand altogether. 

It is difficult to accord this development a more unreserved note of welcome given the LTTE's record of fanaticism and its drive for dominance over the Tamil majority areas of northern and eastern Sri Lanka. Aside from the misgivings about the LTTE's true intent that continue to linger, the decision to establish a federal structure also leaves unanswered very crucial questions pertaining to the principles on the basis of which the path forward is to be charted and the very many details that have to be settled before power can be devolved. 

Most salient in this respect is the fact that the unit of devolution has not been identified and there is no clarity as to whether or not a merger of the northern and eastern provinces is being envisaged.

What is disturbing in this context is that there are no indications as to the manner in which the issue of the contiguity of areas with a Tamil majority is to be addressed and as to how the pockets with strong Sinhala and Muslim populations are to be dealt with. These questions cannot be overlooked in a context where there has been a creeping expansion of the LTTE's presence in these areas with this organisation taking in the administering and policing of areas adjacent to those where it exercised a military presence before the ceasefire. 

An impression is being thereby created that the LTTE is being allowed to gain footholds and set up bases in even those areas where it did not have a military presence. The LTTE is being allowed to consolidate its presence on the ground well before any discussions on the modalities of dismantling, or otherwise dealing with, the organisation's military infrastructure have been initiated. 

While the LTTE is being virtually provided the right to first rule over these areas there has been no effort made to ensure that it will observe the principles of pluralism and democracy. It is also a matter for grave concern that steady progress is being made towards the grant of full legitimacy to the LTTE apparently in a state of forgetfulness about the many homicidal crimes that the organisation has committed and without any sign whatsoever of an effort to hold it accountable.

Trends that could have incalculable consequences for Sri Lanka's future are being set at a time when the island's two main political formations are at loggerheads, thus providing the LTTE the opportunity to exploit their differences. It cannot escape notice that the "breakthrough" that is being celebrated in certain quarters has occurred just as the embargo that had blocked the President, Chandrika Kumaratunga, from dismissing the Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, and his Cabinet for the period of a year after their entry into office had expired. 

The LTTE's currently stated willingness to accept a solution that is short of its maximalist demand for a separate state is a political fact that can be claimed as a success by Mr. Wickremesinghe. The calculation is that this breakthrough would rebound in Mr. Wickremesinghe's favour should there be an election in Sri Lanka in the short term. The likelihood of such an outcome could block the President from resorting to the constitutional means at her disposal. While these factors might politically assist Mr. Wickremesinghe in the short term, they are also facilitating the LTTE's dangerous designs.


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