Sunday, Oct 26, 2003
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By V.S. Sambandan
The Tamil Guardian newspaper, published in English from London, editorially condemned the defence contents of the recent visit by the Sri Lankan Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, to India as having "seriously undermined'' the trust between the Government and the Tigers. Describing them as "Colombo's frantic efforts to augment its military capability'', the newspaper said these "will undoubtedly prompt a strategic rethink in the Vanni'' an area held by the LTTE in the northern Sri Lanka.
Mr. Wickremesinghe's moves, the newspaper said, were "efforts to shift the military advantage drastically in his favour'' and would "have a profound impact on the peace process as a whole''. The newspaper did not comment on the joint statement issued after Mr. Wickremesinghe met the Indian Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, earlier this month and restricted itself to saying: "Delhi's position on the Tamil struggle has been well understood by most observers of the island's protracted conflict''.
Recalling the Indian "military intervention'' during the late eighties, the paper said: "Mr. Wickremesinghe's public courting of Delhi'' had "struck a raw nerve and revived unpleasant memories''. It saw the move as one that "suggests Colombo clearly expects to coerce the LTTE into a political solution as opposed to cooperatively negotiating one''.
The LTTE, the newspaper said, "has not reacted favourably or for that matter, predictably to coercion in the past''. Mr. Wickremesinghe "clearly expecting the LTTE leadership to ... follow his lines of rationale'' was "turning what ought to be a process of conflict resolution into one of military blackmail''. Fears were also raised of the scenario when, "instead of striking a deal that accommodates the aspirations of the Tamil people'', Mr. Wickremesinghe "attempts to foist at the point of a bayonet a new formulation of the present Sinhala domination on them''.
Reflecting the LTTE's views on the internationalisation of the peace process, the newspaper said Mr. Wickremesinghe's "predilection for shaking an `international safety net' at the LTTE has already raised the movement's hackles''. The Prime Minister's "compulsive insistence on widening the conflict will inevitably lead to the Norwegian peace process being viewed less as a genuine effort to seek peace than as a device for securing space and time for Sri Lanka to acquire military superiority'', the paper said, and concluded with an ominous question: "What will the prospects for peace be then?''
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