peace council a non-starter?
By Frances Bulathsinghala
Four major political parties, the UNP, JHU, TNA and
the SLMC will not support the government's National Advisory Council
for Peace and Reconciliation which gets off the ground tomorrow
while the government's latest co-habitator, the CWC, remains undecided
about attending the session.
CWC which earlier declared that it was attending the session yesterday
said it was awaiting its leader Arumugan Thondaman's return to the
country, to take a decision. The JHU and the SLMC were the latest
parties to boycott the Advisory Council sessions due to commence
leader Rauff Hakeem said yesterday that his party will not take
any decision regarding taking part in the Advisory Council until
President Chandrika Kumaratunga consents to meet the party members
to clarify the UPFA position on the role of the SLMC in the peace
decision by the SLMC was taken after a late night party leaders
meeting on Friday, with a letter being sent to President Kumaratunga
regarding the SLMC decision yesterday.
letter requests the President to clarify issues related to the Muslim
aspect in talks to be initiated by the UPFA with the LTTE. Referring
to the National Advisory Council the letter further states that
the President had not made the role of the council in the peace
negotiations clear and adds that clarifications are needed on the
parameters and composition of the council.
appointment of the National Advisory Council was seen as the government's
latest move to go ahead with the stalled peace process. The Council
is being appointed to open wider consultations, the President's
office has said.
National Organizer Ven. Kolonnawe Sri Sumangala Thera told The Sunday
Times that the JHU position was that it will not be supporting the
National Council for Peace and Reconciliation on the basis that
anything linked to the Interim Self Governing Authority (ISGA) proposals
of the LTTE was unacceptable to his party.
UNP and TNA reiterated that they believe the government was buying
time till the next Presidential Election by setting up the National
Advisory Council. TNA General Secretary R. Sampanthan dismissed
the move by the government as a waste of time with Prof. Peiris,
stating that the main reason for the Opposition to boycott the National
Advisory Council is the Government's 'unclear stand' on the LTTE's
government has ever got the backing from an opposition like this
government has got from us. But it is clearly seen that this is
a time buying measure taken by the President until the next Presidential
election", Prof. G. L. Peiris told The Sunday Times. "The
UNP had clearly stated that we would talk to the LTTE based on the
ISGA. This did not mean that we would be accepting the ISGA in total.
The President has not made a clear statement", he said.