Feature Article

Peace snag said rooted in Sri Lanka's constitution

[TamilNet, Thursday, 15 May 2003, 00:02 GMT]
Norwegian Foreign Minister Mr. Jan Peterson accompanied by his deputy Mr. Vidar Helgessen Wednesday morning arrived in Colombo to hold crucial talks with the leaders of the government and LTTE to in a bid to restart Sri Lanka’s stalled peace talks. Japan and Norway are keen that the LTTE take part in crucial aid conference next month in Tokyo. The Tigers, however, say Colombo should first establish legally operable bodies and procedures to ensure a direct say for Tamils over the utilization of funds pledged by donors for reconstructing the war torn northeast.

Under Sri Lanka’s laws, the Parliament, controlled by the island’s Sinhala majority, has sole, ‘sovereign’ control over utilization of the country's finances.

The Tigers say their presence in Tokyo cannot guarantee the reconstruction and development of the war ravaged northeast because control over how funds pledged by donors would be utilized will ultimately be in the hands of the Sinhala majority under Sri Lanka’s constitution, which expressly forbids the Parliament from devolving its legislative authority – which includes the power to make the budget- to other bodies.

The legal implications of the Sinhala dominated Parliament’s exclusive control over country’s finances has stymied efforts to establish appropriate bodies and procedures for Colombo and the Tigers to jointly manage and utilize funds to develop the northeast.

A proposal mooted by Colombo during the initial stages of the peace talks for setting up a Joint Task Force to manage and utilize development and rehabilitation funds for the northeast jointly was dropped when the body’s legality was found wanting.

Oslo talks, 041202.
Norwegian Foreign Minister Mr. Jan Peterson.
The LTTE says unless Colombo comes up with an appropriate, legally feasible solution to this problem there won’t be any guarantee that the funds donors may pledge in Tokyo will benefit the northeast and its people.

Tamils say that Sinhala majority's exclusive control over the island nation's finances is the root cause of underdevelopment in the northeast.

"It even gives them unquestionable authority to divert funds earmarked for reconstruction and rehabiliation of the northeast," points out Tamil Parliamentarian Mr. Selvam Adaikalanathan.

The Norwegian foreign minister is scheduled to meet the Liberation Tigers in Kilinochchi Thursday. He would also meet the Prime Minister Mr.Ranil Wickremasinghe the same day, senior officials in Colombo said.

Akashi, Japaneses envoy
Japanese special peace envoy Mr. Yasushi Akashi
He met the leader of the opposition Mr.Mahinda Rajapakse Wednesday and was expected to meet the Colombo’s chief negotiators, ministers Prof. G.L. Peiris and Mr. Milinda Morogoda and Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Mr.Tyronne Fernando later in the evening.

Japanese special peace envoy Mr. Yasushi Akashi last week held extensive discussions with the leaders of the government and LTTE to restart the peace talks. He met the LTTE leader Mr.V.Pirapaharan last week in Kilinochchi for the first time.

The LTTE leader explained to Mr. Akashi the reasons for pulling from the talks temporarily, including Colombo’s failure to implement the cease fire agreement satisfactorily and the problems arising from not having legally and mutually operable systems in place for carrying out rehabilitation and reconstruction in the northeast.

Christina Rocca
American Assistant Secretary of State Ms Christina Rocca (Photo: BBC)
Meanwhile American Assistant Secretary of State Ms Christina Rocca said Wednesday that the aid summit conference scheduled to be held in Japan next month would benefit the Tigers, Tamils and the peace process. She repeated her call for cohabitation between the President and Prime Minister.

During her stay in Colombo she held discussions with the Prime Minister Mr.Ranil Wickremasinghe, President Ms.Chandrika Kumaratunge and other government sources said.

"The Present peace process has provided a tremendous boost to resolve Sri Lanka’s ethnic conflict of two decades," said Ms Christina Rocca addressing a press conference Wednesday at the end of her two day visit to Sri Lanka before leaving the island same day afternoon, sources said.

Japan says it is willing to give aid to the tune of three billion dollars to Sri Lanka. This aid will become important to the government as well as to the LTTE, she said.

Related Articles:
16.05.03   Rocca Urges Continuation of Sri Lankan Peace Negotiations
14.05.03   LTTE,TNA spell out basis for Tokyo meet participation
10.05.03   Akashi expresses confidence in LTTE joining aid talks
08.05.03   Norway delegation meets Balasingham, LTTE commanders
08.05.03   Akashi meets Pirapaharan
07.05.03   LTTE's participation in Tokyo meeting crucial for peace proc..
04.05.03   Norwegian, Japanese peace facilitators arrive in Colombo


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