Editorial

Reinventing the Sri Lankan State or creation of two states?

The political firmament as well as the media are waiting anxiously for the LTTE to unfold its Interim Agreement worked out by its ‘constitutional experts’, local and foreign on Friday. Various leaks and trial balloons have gone up particularly in weekend newspapers, the most comprehensive of which was by former Island columnist, now working for the Sunday Leader, D. B. S. Jeyaraj.

The proposals outlined by this columnist indicate that the proposed Interim Administration will be an intermediate stage, if not the penultimate stage to what the LTTE envisages to be the final form the constitution will take. There can be no objection to this concept of the Interim Administration being in line with the final form a proposed constitution will take because this is what has been envisaged in the proposed Indo-Sri Lanka Agreement, announced last week.

Jeyaraj says that the Tigers have in the recent past been ‘engaged in an exercise of revolutionary constitutionalism’ and the proposals ultimately calls for ‘a very bold reinvention of the Sri Lankan state and equitable structures of power sharing to ensure the territorial integrity of Sri Lanka in the future’.

If we are to go by the Interim Administration proposals presented by Jeyaraj, it does seem that what is asked for is that this ‘revolutionary constitutional making’ goes right back beyond the re-invention of the Sri Lankan state to the re-invention of the wheel.

It does appear that what these ‘constitutional experts’ and the terrorists from the Wanni have laboured and produced is nothing but a reiteration of the demands made for two decades ago since they took to guns and bombs.

Firstly, it is clearly stated: ‘The LTTE wants the government to officially declare the LTTE as the sole representatives of the Tamils as a prerequisite to any interim set up or constitutional discussions. Sri Lankan governments have negotiated with the LTTE, no doubt, to bring about a cessation of hostilities. But on what constitutional principles and on what moral authority can the LTTE which has not faced any election be recognised as the sole representative of the Tamil people for making of the new constitution for all the people? This demand is all old hat.

The LTTE constitutional makers do seem to have the utter impudence to suggest a fascist move to bring about an Interim Administration. It is claimed that given the political antagonisms between the PA and the UNP, an expedited political settlement requiring a two-third majority in parliament is unrealistic. A special mechanism is therefore required, it is proclaimed. And that is for the LTTE to invoke the Doctrine of Necessity and set up an Interim Administration by themselves that could take over the administration of the North-East for six years, focusing on rehabilitation and development!. In simple language what is proposed is that the LTTE by- passes parliament and the constitution and set up their Interim Administration for six years! Whether the UNP government under Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe has the authority to by-pass parliament or another body to do so under the Doctrine of Necessity and hand over two provinces of the country to an internationally proscribed terrorist organisation is a vital questioned to be answered.

This is an issue that all Sri Lankans who want to save their country should take up. Due to the petty politics and squabbling between President Kumaratunga and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and their inability to reach consensus on vital national interests, the pathetic state has been reached that this terrorist group proposes quite brazenly that two of the provinces be handed over to this terrorist organisation by passing the people, parliament and the constitution!

This proposed interim administration is to have wide powers for six years.

It is to have members commensurate with the ethnic ratio of the north and east but could these members be representatives of other parties if the LTTE are the sole representatives?

A referendum is to be held after six years for a new constitution but if the country rejects the proposed constitution, it is the LTTE and not the Tamil people who will exercise the right of self determination, as proposed.

Then comes the most impudent of proposals where it is proposed that the Sinhala people like a people conquered, in chains, will have to kow-tow to the LTTE overlords. In the preamble to the Interim Agreement it has been proposed to have a clause related to the root cause of the conflict. Jeyaraj says this clause ‘will charge the various Sinhala dominated governments of the past with acts of omission and commission against the Tamil speaking people with a view to impose majoritarian hegemonism’. We refrain from commenting on this issue and leave it to our readers.

Proceeding from the Interim Administration to constitutional making it is said: Tamil participation will be conditional on the government agreeing to certain core principles before hand – The Thimpu Principles. These were the principles rejected by the J. R. Jayewardene Government in 1985 and been subsequently found unacceptable by all successive governments!

Apparently what is aimed at is two sovereign states. ‘The LTTE will like a constitutional arrangement of a confederal nature. While the unity and integrity of the country is ensured, a system of shared sovereignty as expected to come into force. An associated structure guaranteeing full separation of powers while forbidding secession is desired. The Sri Lankan stare had to be restructured and reinvented’.

Does this mean that Sri Lanka will not be a single sovereign state but divided into two states?

And finally: LTTE does not intend decommissioning arms or dissolving its armed units until a new constitution is promulgated. It wants specific codes of conduct for its armed units on land and sea along with those of the official armed forces during the interim period. Armed units on land and sea? Not only a police but a navy as well for an Interim Administration?

This is the time for our Lotus Eating Sri Lankans to wake up and tell our leaders: Govern or get out!

These proposals go beyond the reinventing of the Sri Lankan state. It is for the creation of another two states.
Gamini Weerakoon
Editor


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