|Thursday, 14 October 2004|
Positive examples of engagement in dialogue-based approach - NPC
Three positive developments in recent weeks indicate that Sri Lanka's peace process continues to hold strong potential for betterment, even through the government and LTTE have not been able to reconcile their differences and peace talks remain stalled.
They widely publicised convening of a National Advisory Council on Reconciliation and Peace by president Chandrika Kumaratunga brought together a range of political parties, religious leaders and key members of civil society organisations. While the event was not attended by the main opposition party and other important minority parties, it was a start to a more broad-based peace process in which there is more dialogue and less unilateralism.
A NPC press release yesterday state the second positive development has been the ongoing visit to Europe by a top level LTTE delegation headed by its political wing S P Tamilselvan. During their time abroad the LTTE delegation have found themselves confronted by calls for a strict cessation of cease fire violations by international organisations and governments, and in turn have reaffirmed their commitment to flexibility in negotiating with the Sri Lankan government on the basis of their proposals for an interim self-governing authority.
The third positive development was the meeting between the highest ranking Buddhist prelate, the Most Venerable Mahanayake of the Malwatte Chapter in Kandy and a delegation of Parliamentarians from the Tamil National Alliance.
At this landmark meeting the TNA representatives affirmed their confidence that there will be no return to war and no division of the country while the Mahanayake urged the TNA to join the National Advisory Council and address the gathering on the same lines. The National Peace Council fully endorses this dialogue-based approach as the only one that is suitable to solving the ethnic conflict in a sustainable manner.
We express our condemnation of those nationalist groups that demonstrated and protested against the meeting and sought to restrict the space for dialogue as the means for conflict resolution.
As a peace organisation, we face these same problems of opposition and intolerance in our work (See news item below). The value of dialogue and keeping open the lines of communication can best be seen by the continuation of the ceasefire. The continuation of the ceasefire for 32 months, and for 19 months without peace talks, is a major accomplishment. Previously no cease fire with the LTTE lasted more than 3 months.
At least a part of the credit for the continuation of the cease fire and the no-war situation should go to the Norwegian facilitators and to the international monitors. The fact that lines of communication remained open between the Government and LTTE due to their presence in the country has been a major factor in the sustenance of the ceasefire.
The National Peace Council believes that the willingness to break new ground through dialogue now been shown by the Venerable Mahanayake and TNA should be carried forward by other parties as well. We call on the Government and LTTE on the one hand, and the opposition parties on the other, to utilise all avenues to engage with one another instead of being tempted to withdraw into isolation and unilateralism.
Produced by Lake House