Letter by President Kumaratunga to the Leader of Opposition, Ranil Wickremesinghe, explaining objectives of the NACPR
3 October, 2004
Hon. Ranil Wickremesinghe, MP, Leader of the Opposition, 115, 5th Lane, Colombo 3.
My dear Leader of the Opposition,
I thank you for your letter dated 24th September, 2004 which reached the Presidential Secretariat on 27th September.
I and the Government are disappointed that you and your party will not be present at the inaugural meeting of the National Advisory Council on Peace and Reconciliation (NACPR) to be held on 4th October.
I am rather perplexed at the reasons you provide for this unfortunate decision and sincerely hope you will reconsider this for the following reasons.
Firstly, the effort on the part of my Government to engage the LTTE in comprehensive peace negotiations is not confined to the establishment of an interim authority which is the sole focus of your letter.
While this subject may be discussed initially, we have a wider agenda to discuss, in order to address the core issues of our conflict, if we are to reach a lasting solution.
Secondly, my Government is firmly pledged to the recommencement of negotiations with the LTTE, which left the negotiating table in April 2003, while conducting negotiations with the UNF Government, led by you.
We are engaged in intense dialogue with the LTTE to find solutions to the problems that caused them to walk away from the talks.
You declined my invitation to you and the UNP to participate in the National Consultation for Peace, by stating that such a consultation is not necessary at present and you urge me to commence talks with the LTTE through direct discussions of the issues arising from both sets of proposals, i.e. on the basis of the LTTE's ISGA proposals, together with the UNF proposals presented by you in June 2003. Your proposition surprises me.
I do not understand how you expect my present Government to enter into negotiations with the LTTE on the basis of the two proposals when the LTTE has strongly rejected your proposal many times over.
I quote from Mr. Anton Balasingham's letter to you, dated 04th June, 2003 where he states that you have failed to address the central issue raised by us (The LTTE) and goes on further to say "The LTTE regrets to say that your suggestions are unsatisfactory and therefore unacceptable."
Mr. Balasingham also states that "The LTTE is seeking an interim administrative framework as pledged by you in the elections .... your government is proposing a development structure with limited scope and power...", which the LTTE finds "unsatisfactory and unacceptable".
This view was also confirmed very strongly by the LTTE Leader, Mr. V. Prabhakaran in his heroes day speech in November 2003, where he states that the three proposals submitted by the Government, one after the other, for an interim council were rejected by the LTTE as unacceptable and unsatisfactory.
It is thus clear as crystal that you are advising me to resume negotiations with the LTTE on a basis part of which as you are fully aware, has totally been rejected by the LTTE.
Permit me, dear Sir, to take the liberty to appeal to you to make suggestions that are honest and workable.
Let me be clear - I am not seeking a consensus in the NACPR as a precondition to either begin talks with the LTTE or to make the NACPR responsible for decisions regarding the commencement and continuation of talks with the LTTE.
The NACPR will provide a consultative forum for the Government that is engaged in a process of dialogue with the LTTE, to continually keep the country and its representatives informed of the progress and issues of the Peace Process on one hand, and on the other for the Government to obtain the views of the country, mainly through its political representatives as well as from religious leaders and representatives of various interests groups.
We do not, in any way, wish to use this process of consultation through the NACPR to run away from the Government's total responsibility of seeking means of resolving the conflict of the North East.
Finally, your preference to participate in the NACPR after the commencement of talks with the LTTE, deliberately excludes your Party from valuable consultations on the one most important national issue presently before the country and the approach of the Government to the negotiations which I had sincerely hoped would, perhaps for the first time in our recent history, be genuinely inclusive and transparent.
The country is aware that I have during the past ten years made numerous efforts to find ways to bring the country's two major political parties, the UNP and the PA, to work together in the national interest - specially with regard to the ethnic conflict - and that these efforts failed to come to fruition due to the consistent rejection of each of my proposals by the UNP.
For these reasons, I do hope you will refer this matter to your Party and arrive at a consensus on the participation of your Party in this most essential national endeavour.
Yours sincerely, Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga.
Source: Daily News, Colombo.