|Wednesday, 14 January 2004|
Defence Ministry portfolio and the peace talks
The Prime Minister continued with the Peace Talks through two years despite open violations of the MoU by the LTTE from day 01 almost, and despite the LTTE suspending participation twice during this period.
Never once did he threaten the LTTE with suspension by Govt of further talks with the LTTE unless it ceased its many violations.
That the LTTE was desperate for continuation of talks at that time was clear in that when Mr. Moragoda made some fuss about him being misquoted by the LTTE and he would not participate further, Balasingham was quick to apologise and plead he continue!
The first time the UNF showed some spine, the LTTE wilted and complied! Yet now the PM whines and Achilles - like, sulks in his tent, refusing to come out and talk and continue the peace process, on the pretext (I say pretext deliberately) that it is not possible for him to continue without the Defence Ministry in his hands.
Reminds me of a small boy whining to his mommy that he can't do his homework unless he gets another piece of cake! I see, a number of fallacies, nay frauds in the stand taken up by the PM and the UNF on this issue.
First, the take over by the President of the D/Ministry is perfectly constitutional and eminently legal.
No two words. Second, and even more to the point, it was the PM & his UNF who throughout the last election campaign and thereafter kept repeating 'ad nauseam' that this time was the last - chance for peace.
If so, he should be prepared to ignore so-called impediments, when obviously such 'obstacles' can be overcome by other practical means.
The proposal for a 'Defence Council,' with the President as Chairman ex officio (accords eminently with the constitution!) and the PM or other as Dep Defence Minister handling the day to day negotiations, is eminently practical.
The PM refusing to seize the main chance so afforded in the context of his own assessment that now is the last chance for peace is to my mind dishonest, hiding some other agenda he has in mind, some other mandate he has to accomplish. More of that later.
The PM has also repeatedly said that nothing should stand in the way of continuing with the Peace Process, and that he will not permit anything to impede the process. Well he must follow that precept.
Why does he not? Apparently that 'fiat' applies only as a pretext for ignoring LTTE violations of the MoU and of the peace process, and not to other so-called impediments created by the President! Double Talk, Doublespeak and Double standards with a vengeance!
Besides, there are ample instances of peace talks being carried on in situations such as now existing here. Ratwatte was D/Defence Minister and negotiated some moratoriums on hostilities.
The 1994 peace talks were conducted while the President held the Defence Portfolio, by non-Ministerial individuals. The Talks failed, but not on the issue of who held the D/Ministry but inter-alia due to unsuitable individuals being sent as negotiators.
Those Gentlemen even had the cowardice to conduct the talks under the LTTE flag! peace talks between International enemies (not merely local ones as here) have been conducted by negotiators who did not hold the D/Ministry.
WW1 and WW2 Armistice Talks were conducted by Generals but under the authority of their Heads of State. Kissinger held talks with the Viet Minh to end the Vietnam War though he was not the Secretary of Defence!
He did so under both Republican and Democratic Administrations, if my memory serves me right. So why cannot a purely local insurgency, now having the proportions of a mini-war perhaps, be negotiated towards peace by UNF Ministers nominated by the PM under the general authority of the President and all of whom are members of the same Cabinet?
Also the LTTE itself is represented at the Talks not by its defence men but its political head. Where military matters are concerned its military men, (Karuna et al) participate. Practical and logical.
The PM can surely authorise with the President's approval, the Army Chief or other military officers to join in when defence/military matters are discussed.
No, obviously the PM & the UNF are making much ado about nothing, and violating their own now perennial dictum that nothing must stand in the way of the peace process. Why one may ask.
I have my own explanation (or theory) for the UNF's two-faced stand as regards on the one hand the imperative need as the PM keeps saying to continue the peace process, come what may, this being the last chance for peace which should not be missed and his carrying out that injunction to the letter.
Even to the last punctation mark despite gross LTTE violations of the MoU for well nigh two years, without a whimper of protest or corrective action and on the other hand now coming to a dead stop on the President making a constitutional change (which as I have shown should be no bar at all to continuing with the peace process) and thereby grossly and dishonestly violating its own oft repeated dictum mentioned above.
The explanation is based on the matter of a mandate undertaken by the PM & the UNF broached above.
Considering the foll viz, the UNF's total indifference to the LTTE's many breaches of the peace terms since day 01, its constant refusal to call the LTTE to account for same (e.g. by suspending the talks till the LTTE rectifies the violation) it's almost total neglect of our defence forces despite the LTTE massively strengthening theirs in men and armaments.
It's affording facilities to the LTTE which could compromise our Defence Forces, it's permitting the State Media to air LTTE news and propaganda, it's financing the LTTE by way of providing free transport (helicopters etc.) and Customs free import of military-potential goods (telecom equipment) it's ignoring of LTTE flag hoistings on Govt buildings allied with the Govt refraining from taking disciplinary action against GA's and other Administrative Officers who flout the Rules and attend LTTE functions on Govt time etc.
It's permitting by a total indifference, the LTTE to remorselessly and steadily build the infrastructure of a separate state ("Eelam") not merely in the North but in the Eastern Prov too, and other factors too numerous to mention, considering all these aspects one is led to the inescapable conclusion that the UNF is faithfully implementing a mandate it undertook on behalf of the LTTE prior to the last elections in exchange for the LTTE undertaking a mandate to get the Tamil Electorate to vote for the UNF.
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