Peace preconditions and polling
The call for national unity by the Chief
Prelates of the Siyam, Amarapura and Ramanna Nikayas, we hope, would
have the effect of bringing reconciliation and harmony to this
conflict-ridden land which today faces a crucial Presidential poll.
Election time in Sri Lanka usually brings division and discord and
the statement by these chief Buddhist Prelates could be considered most
timely in view of the spiritual authority they are vested with. Reduced
to its essentials, the pronouncement by the Venerable Theras calls on
the Lankan polity to unite in the face of the multifarious threats which
are upon the country.
Chief among these is political terror and it stands to reason that
the major political forces of Sri Lanka would need to unite to work out
a political solution to the ethnic conflict. We cannot perceive how a
workable political solution to the conflict could be found in the
absence of a consensus on such a political settlement on the part of our
principal political parties.
Accordingly, regardless of the outcome of the Presidential poll, the
search for a political solution must continue and this quest needs to be
conducted on a consensual basis, divested completely of political
opportunism and short-term power considerations which helped in
torpedoeing many a workable political solution in the past.
The basis for working out a fresh political solution already exists
because both the SLFP and the UNP have come to accept power devolution
within a united and geographically intact Sri Lanka as providing the
basic framework for a political settlement.
Time is of the essence. No more precious time could be spent "talking
about talks" or splitting hairs over basic concepts. Around 25 years
have already been squandered in this futile fashion. Now that the
essential parameters for a solution have been worked out, all that is
left to be done is to make a united effort towards finding a workable
solution which would meet the legitimate aspirations of all our
Another noteworthy point in the Prelates' statement is that our
"rulers" should "provide an environment where every ethnic community
could live in peace and harmony." This is indeed a paramount requirement
for peace. It is also closely bound-up with the task of finding a
In fact the emerging political solution would prove crucial in the
provision of an environment wherein all our communities would feel at
home. If the political settlement does not provide for what is called an
inclusive polity wherein all communities would share power and be equal
stakeholders, it is unlikely that an environment would be created where
communities would live in peace and harmony. In other words, the
democratic aspirations of all our communities would need to be met,
including the right to conscience and religion.
The Prelates have also raised concern about the erosion of humane
values and on this score too much needs to be achieved by our "rulers".
A fresh effort could be made towards fulfilling this essential task by
ensuring that we have a peaceful and hatred-free Presidential election.
What is important is that democratic norms and values are respected
in the polling process. This must be ensured by our rulers. The law too
would need to be firmly enforced.
Besides, we need good and magnanimous winners and graceful losers.
Absolute observance of the Rule of Law by all would facilitate this