|Friday, 18 July 2003|
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No peace without mutual accommodation
In this moment of deep suspense when the country eagerly awaits a breakthrough in the trouble-hit peace process, it is encouraging to learn that the World Bank has increased its total funding commitment to Sri Lanka from US $ 800 million to US $ one billion. This amounts to a strong vote of confidence in Sri Lanka and should enthuse the parties to the peace effort to redouble their efforts to break the current log jam in the negotiatory process.
As indicated by us yesterday, the World Bank's increased aid commitment was announced by WB Country Director for Sri Lanka, Peter Harrold, at the launching of the Bank's first Country Assistance Strategy for Sri Lanka.
The Country Director was emphatic that the World Bank was seeking to buttress local efforts towards peace, growth and equity, through the increased aid commitment. Without peace, development wouldn't be forthcoming, we were rightly reminded. In focus was also the need for speedy reconstruction and capacity-building in the North-East.
We hope that all this wouldn't be lost on the key parties to the peace effort. While the Government would need to take cognizance of the prime concerns and needs of the LTTE and other relevant sections, the LTTE would need to address its mind to the need to press ahead with the negotiatory process. In particular, the LTTE should not be seen as hindering the peace endeavour. Cooperating with the SLMM in its facilitatory role, for instance, is of crucial importance. We do not see how the journey to a negotiated settlement could be resumed, if SLMM rulings are ignored, for instance.
The Government, on the other hand, should seek ways and means of getting all relevant players of the South to cooperate in the peace process. Not only must the support of the opposition be enlisted, but the rights of all communities need to be recognized and respected. We do not see how the peace process could be taken out of the rut in which it is, if these conditions are not met.
In respect of North-East reconstruction and capacity-building, we do not see how these aims could be achieved in the absence of a program to tap the expertise of grassroots organisations and groups which are in close touch with the ground realities of the region. The overall aim should be to address the real needs of the people and to channel development assistance to the places where it is needed most.
The early installation of a North-East Interim Administration would help greatly in these tasks but the LTTE would need to be accommodative and flexible in the demands it makes of other parties in this context.
There is no overlooking the multi-ethnic character of the North-East. All communities of this region should be enabled to feel at home in any future administrative set-up.
Recognizing the rights of all communities is a vital ingredient of peace. We hope the LTTE would come to terms with this fact. There is no peace without power-sharing. We need to operate on the basis of the principle of equality and mutual accommodation.
Produced by Lake House