LTTE’s ballon d’essai

The LTTE has sent a trial balloon at its recent Pongu Tamil ceremony in Vavuniya. Issuing a declaration to mark the occasion, it has demanded that powers to deal with Land, Finance, Police and Judicial Services be vested with the interim council they ask for.

Pongu Tamil being a propaganda blitz of the LTTE, there is every reason to believe that what is spelt out in the declaration is the essence of the LTTE’s interim council proposals, which are expected to be submitted to the government next month.

The government in its proposals for an LTTE-dominated provisional administrative arrangement for the North and East last July offered ‘adequate arrangements to enable the Council to participate effectively in the exercise and performance of such powers and functions as are at present being exercised and performed by the government in respect of regional administration except the areas of police and security, land and revenue...’

The LTTE demand goes way beyond the government offer. Nothing could be more disastrous for the country and the people of the North and the East than the LTTE being granted powers to run the police and courts and handle land matters and finance. If these powers are granted, the LTTE will have no need to campaign further for federalism. For such a council will be a federal set up except in name.

The Pongu Tamil demand is a pointer that the talks to be resumed when the LTTE proposals are unveiled, will depart from ‘the road map to peace’ and drag on for a long time on interim matters much to the neglect of the core issues.

Going by ‘peace dividends’ accruing to the LTTE such as unbridled freedom to put up camps, extort money, forcibly conscript children and kidnap people, the LTTE wouldn’t grumble even if the talks were to go on until hell freezes over. Whether or not an interim council tailored for LTTE needs is granted at the end, the LTTE will have, by the time talks draw to a close with or without success, consolidated its power in the North and the East.

Within less than two years of entering the peace process, the LTTE is today in a position to raise the Eelam flag in Vavuniya in full view of the military and the police – a task it could not achieve during twenty years of war. What the situation would be under an interim council as demanded by the LTTE may not be difficult to guess.

A discordant note

The discordant note struck by Minister Hemakumara Nanayakkara in Parliament on Thursday is of significance as it smacks of increasing disillusionment within government ranks with the peace process.

Mr. Nanayakkara did not mince his words when he spoke of the LTTE and its atrocities, especially the shoddy treatment Ven. Ellawela Medhananda thera was subjected to by the Tigers when he visited the East to conduct an archaeological research. He asked whether such atrocities could any longer be tolerated.

He is one of the few parliamentarians who have the courage to speak out their minds and his views run counter to optimism of government leaders and the rosy picture being painted by government propagandists about the peace process.

Ironically, we hear Mr. Nanayakkara’s sonorous voice at a time when the government says it is planning to launch a propaganda blitz to counter what it terms a misinformation campaign against the peace process.

We saw several such campaigns under the last government such as Sudu Nelum and the Peace Caravan. Millions of rupees, which could otherwise have gone to something worthwhile, were spent on these gimmicks. Apart from helping some NGO activists and politicians to line their pockets, they served little purpose. Those politicians are now, in the Opposition, going hell for leather to deliver the country from the LTTE while their NGO allies have crossed over to the government and are singing for their supper.

Mr. Nanayakkara, who helped bring the UNF to power in no small measure has by expressing himself candidly proved that not all government parliamentarians are blind to reality.

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