President Mahinda Rajapaksa has forwarded seven important
concerns to be discussed at the peace talks, to the co-chairs
representatives yesterday at the meeting held at Temple Trees.
"So far the talks were centred to the periphery of Ceasefire Agreement, number of participants etc. but not the substantial or core issues. I think it is high time now of this 23 years old war and the number of discussions held so far, to concern more on these critical issues," Defense spokesperson, Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said at the weekly media briefing at Media Centre for National security held today. Hence, President forwarded seven core issues to the co-chairs representatives that should be taken up at the peace talks, minister said. As Minister Rambukwella explained the core issues for discussions are as follows.
1. Democracy - Enabling every citizen to participate in the democratic process.
2. Multi Party Political System - "As European Union, India and majority of Sri Lankan Tamils say LTTE is not the only representative of the Tamil population," minister said emphasising the importance of multiple party representation in politics considering interest of many groups in this vast society. Multiple party political system must be allowed to exist to let people to pursue their political activities, Minister added.
3. Pluralism - "People, regardless of differences should be able to participate in the democratic system which the government is proposing," Mr. Rambukwella explained.
4. Human Rights - "At all times human rights should be applied if the LTTE is calling themselves as liberators. Or else they should take off their labels and call themselves as dictators or terrorists," minister said. Further speaking minister noted that human rights should work both ways, not one way.
5. Child Soldiers / recruiting of children for combat should be totally stopped.
6. Development of North and East - "Under development leads towards situations such as that happened during 1971 and 1988 in the south," he said. Minister further explained that according to reports of these past incidents revealed that the Southern terrorism was due to underdevelopment and oppression and this is similar right across the country and Northeast is no exception. "Development can ease out many issues of this nature," he said.
7. Devolution of power - "During the discussions of above issues, eventually the main core issue of devolution of power will emerge," Minister added.
All Party Representative Committee (APRC) met yesterday for pre-discussions to draft a devolution package based on the Indian Panchayath system. APRC hopes to study the implications of the Panchayath system to ensure devolution at village level in India. Norwegian Ambassador Hans Brattskar is scheduled to convey these seven topic message of the chief-of-state to the LTTE today. "Ceasefire Agreement should not be the only solution," minister stressed. He also mentioned that government does not wish to strictly trap in to the Ceasefire Agreement.