ready for direct talks
In a nationally telecast interview in Sinhala on Tuesday night 16th November, President Chandrika Kumaratunga said the Government of Sri Lanka is prepared to resume direct negotiations with the LTTE at any time, ‘even within this month’ the President told the interviewer.
All that is necessary for the resumption of direct talks have been created and the two major political parties agree on need to resume direct negotiations.
Excerpts from the interview;
President Kumaratunga said ‘ there is absolutely no truth in that’ when asked about the so called ‘secret document’ which last week some sections of the media claimed had been transmitted to her via the Norwegian facilitators. our style of governance is one based on transparency, we keep no secrets from the people.
She said the policy of the Sri Lankan Government on the ethnic issue is the same whoever is at the helm of power." Even in future, when I am no more the head, the next leader will take forward this policy. A change of leadership will not pose any problem to the LTTE to discuss this issue. For the fist time there is a consensus on this national among the major political formations.
When questioned about differences within her Government on the peace issue the President’s response was ‘there are no contrary views among the members of the ruling alliance, the JVP the Governments junior partner has also been urging the LTTE to return to direct negotiations’
Kumaratunga said the current efforts are the seventh attempt at direct negotiations with the LTTE by Sri Lankan Governments. On the sixth occasion, the former UNF Government signed a ceasefire agreement, which has lasted and is the longest to date, she said it was a good trend and should be continued. The present attitude of the LTTE indicates that they have no intention to sabotage the peace talks. They are now are attempting to find out solutions while a Ceasefire Agreement is in place.
The President said the LTTE unilaterally suspended peace talks in April 2003 that was before the UPFA Government took office. After the UPFA assumed office, the LTTE expressed its view that it was willing to recommence talks. However, they are yet to agree to begin face to face talks.
She said the UPFA Government was not opposed to an interim arrangement. The LTTE has not expressed any opposition to this view. But they have stated that they only want to discuss their ISGA proposals. The Government is ready to discuss their proposals but the modalities have to be discussed. we should resume talks to reach a compromise on that.
The President said the intention of the Government is to reach a lasting solution. The UPFA was formed after lengthy discussions with People's Alliance and the JVP. The JVP has also accepted that this problem should be settled through discussions and some kind of devolution of power should be the solution to this problem.
Therefore peace talks should be resumed to decide on the structure and the nature of the devolution of power.
Amendments to the Constitution
Speaking on the Executive Presidential system she said the need of the hour is to amend the electoral system. She said no other country has an electoral system such as the one in Sri Lanka. The PR or proportional representation practiced here does not realistically reflect the people’s mandate. In 1994, the People's Alliance won nearly 82 per cent of the electorates as such the PA should have had eight tenths majority in Parliament as per the Westminster system. But the PA ended up with a one member majority in Parliament in terms of the current electoral system. Therefore we need to first change this electoral system to a democratic one.
said that she was a born democrat and came to power with people's vote and
through her grit and determination. Members of my family entered politics to
serve the nation not to live on it. My dream is to end my political career
as a backbencher in Parliament, she said.
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