Kalupahana alleges CBK undermined ‘reconciliation process’


By Shamindra Ferdinando

Retired Major General Devinda Kalupahana yesterday told the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) that an ambitious reconciliation process launched by the then Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe had collapsed in early 2004 due to President Chandrika Kumaratunga’s decision to take over three key ministries.

Kalupahana alleged that President Kumaratunga had undermined the process, though she and Premier Wickremesinghe publicly endorsed the final report, which discussed ways and means to settle the differences among the Sinhalese, the Tamils and the Muslims.

The former Commissioner of Reconciliation said that he couldn’t print the report due to the political dispute caused by President Kumaratunga’s move. Bradman Weerakoon has been in charge of the overall project.

Kalupahana revealed that the reconciliation process started in 1999 under the Kumaratunga’s presidency and he took over the process in 2002 during Wickremesinghe’s premiership.

Sri Lanka and the LTTE reached a CFA in February 2002 with the help of Norway.

Responding to a query by the LLRC, Kalupahana said that their plan couldn’t be implemented due to the collapse of the peace process.

The LTTE quit the negotiating process in April 2003 after six rounds of talks at overseas venues.

Asked to comment on the role played by INGOs/NGOs in formulating their action plan, Kalupahana said that among those involved in the process were Marga Institute, ICS, Kumar Rupasinghe and Dr. Devanesan Nesiah. Kalupahana said that they had deliberations at the Kadirgamar Centre for International Relations before finalizing the report. According to him, the LTTE declined to participate in the deliberations, though its front organization, TRO took part.

Asked whether he had visited the north recently, Kalupahana said that he accompanied a group of about 50 senior government servants to Kilinochchi on the invitation of the LTTE during the 2002-2004 CFA.

At that time Rupasinghe had been one of the key players in the Norwegian peace initiative, which is now being evaluated by a joint team of Norwegian NGO and British University.

On a request of the LLRC Chairman former Attorney General C. R. de Silva, Kalupahana handed over his action plan to S. B. Atugoda, Secretary to the Commission.

Kalupahana paid a glowing tribute to the then President Ranasinghe Premadasa for making a genuine effort to settle differences among the communities on a three-pronged strategy based on security, development and reconciliation. The former soldier briefly discussed the IPKF quitting Sri Lanka in March 1990, the LTTE moving in to Vavuniya, and the Army regaining the town. According to him, within six months on the directive of President Rajapaksa, the government built 1,000 houses in and around Vavuniya.

When Chairman de Silva asked how they managed to provide water, Kalupahana said that as the houses had been situated in and around Vavuniya water hadn’t been an issue.

The LTTE resumed offensive action in June 1990, three months after the IPKF quit. Within weeks, the army lost the Kandy-Jaffna A9 route. It remained in the LTTE’s hands, until the army during General Sarath Fonseka’s tenure as the Commander regained the road in January 2009.

Kalupahana also mentioned about President Premadasa setting up a special radio station at Vavuniya called Vanni Sevaya to promote amity among the people.

During the 2002-2004 CFA, Wickremesinghe’s government closed down the station, though the army opposed the move.

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