Thursday, Jun 05, 2003
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By V. S. Sambandan
With today's rejection by the LTTE, Sri Lanka's peace process is on the brink, as Colombo cannot provide an interim administration without inviting constitutional trouble from the politically-opposed President, who has wide-ranging dissolution powers and has already warned of sacking the
Wickremesinghe administration if the island's sovereignty was compromised.
Replying to Mr. Wickremesinghe's offer, Mr. Balasingham said the Tigers were "disappointed'' that the premier had "not given a clear and precise response'' to their "proposal'' for an interim administration outside the Constitution, "but indicated negatively'' that he "could not act against'' the laws of the land. Dismissing the DoS as "unsatisfactory'', the LTTE said that while what its leadership proposed was "a politico-administrative structure for the northeast with wider participation of the LTTE'', the Government "offered a council with a structure and mechanism for the development of the region''.
About the same time, Mr. Balasingham's reply was made public, Colombo's chief negotiator, G.L. Peiris, remained hopeful that the problems were "not insurmountable''. The problems, Prof. Peiris said, were over "words and phrases'' as the Government was not opposed to an interim administration, but wanted the mechanism to be discussed in the talks.
The LTTE, for its part, says it would resume negotiations only if it was to discuss an offer for an interim administration as proposed by its leadership. In tone and in language, the LTTE's replies have got steadily stronger since April 21. When calling off the negotiations, the Tigers said it was ``for the time being'' and cited tardy progress in meeting the agreements reached. This was later elaborated as creating "an interval'' to enable Colombo implement its decisions.
Later, on May 21, the LTTE made the point that its demand was for an interim administration as proposed by its leader, V. Prabakaran, to the Norwegian Foreign Minister, Jan Petersen, on May 15. No details of the Prabakaran's proposals are known, but the LTTE's political wing leader, S.P. Tamilchelvan, described them as "tangible, workable, practical and conceptually new''. Today, Mr. Balasingham said while the LTTE's "original proposal'' when talks started last September "was for an interim administrative structure'' it had "metamorphosed into different forms with different functions and powers''. Tracing the various mechanisms considered or put in place the Joint Task Force, the subcommittee on immediate humanitarian and rehabilitation needs, and the Northeast Development and Reconstruction Council Mr. Balasingham said: "this is not the end of this strange evolutionary history of your Government's committees and structures''.
On the premier's latest offer, the LTTE's chief negotiator said: "we could only speculate as to how many rounds of negotiations the parties have to undergo to arrive at a final formulation of this new bureaucratic institution''.
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