Good try with Tamil Terror GOO manipulated propaganda to revive the Tamil Community.You should go on stage if you require financial rewards.Nice rescue story.lol...
UPULGOO, It seems that you only consume punnakku and you don?t read any other news. I guess you only rely on Government punnakku and blabber here in this forum. This news is not from any Tamils newspapers or Magazines, it is from the Sunday Leader.
READ THE ARTICLE AND ENJOY
President prepares for war and toys with general election option
Courtesy: The Sunday Leader - December 24, 2006
With the peace process all but dead and President Mahinda Rajapakse running out of options to get the LTTE back to the negotiation table, a snap general election was once again under serious consideration at Temple Trees last week even as the opposition UNP made it clear it wants a devolution package on the table sooner than later in terms of the MoU with the SLFP.
It was in essence a state of confusion worst confounded at Temple Trees with President Rajapakse completely at sea on how to come out of the crisis he has boxed himself into given the policy contradictions within the government with the only certainty being a full-scale war in the coming weeks.
This the government has made no bones about, going public with its intention to clear the east of the LTTE and the Tigers in turn daring the military to do so, vowing to strike back with a vengeance. Even Presidential Advisor, brother Basil Rajapakse quite frankly told the Head, Berghof Foundation, Norbert Rupers recently, the government would clear the east before inviting the LTTE for talks from a position of strength.
The LTTE needless to say will not agree to resume talks on the government's terms, thus resulting in a stalemate.
It is this standoff that makes a full-scale war inevitable in the new year with even the international community consciously deciding to take a back seat in what they see as a state of hopelessness as evinced from the teleconference the Co-Chairs had on Friday, December 15.
Given the political difficulties the President is faced with due to pressures from the JVP and JHU which have been hollering for war, even Rajapakse realises he must engage in some form of military offensive to keep his allies on board, hence the decision to clear the east.
That war was inevitable and Colombo itself may come under attack the government was also conscious of several months back and set in motion a plan to protect the first family and key advisors.
This plan got underway in July where it was decided to build a multimillion dollar bunker within the High Security Zone (HSZ) to face any eventuality and ensure the safety of the powers that be.
The exact location of this bunker is not published due to security considerations but more than a handful of outsiders are now in the know of the bunker which is akin to a luxury apartment fully secured to withstand any attack. It is a self-contained safe haven with facilities to cook, sleep and live comfortably.
The initial estimate for this luxury bunker done by the Central Engineering Consultancy Bureau was in the region of Rs. 400 million but expected to go much higher as the work progressed. The work on the luxury bunker itself commenced in July this year with several millions worth work already done.
Use of such bunkers by heads of state are not common but Nazi Leader Adolf Hitler used one in Berlin as does LTTE Supremo Velupillai Pirapaharan in the Wanni.
Initially, the authorities contracted a construction company to commence work on the luxury bunker which they did in July based on the estimate given by the Central Engineering Consultancy Bureau but with new requirements introduced, the costs were expected to escalate.
It is while this work was in progress that a close confidant of President Rajapakse who has a major 'link' to another engineering company stirred a hornet's nest by carrying a tale to Temple Trees.
This man whose initials are N.W. (name withheld) had told the President that one of the owners of the construction company had complained at the Colombo Orient Club, public money was being wasted on building a luxury bunker at (location withheld) to protect the powers that be when lesser mortals had to face security risks. The tale carrier is a member of the Orient Club.
Cat out of the bag
No sooner the President was given this information by N.W., he immediately called the owner of the construction company and pitched into him for speaking publicly on the luxury bunker, much to the man's surprise.
The owner of course denied culpability, claiming word would have got out from some of the workers engaged in the construction but the President would have none of it and immediately asked them to stop all work which was already in progress.
With that done, the job was handed over to the engineering firm of the man with the link who carried the tale.
Needless to say, no tenders were called for the construction for which the Treasury is to cough up over Rs. 400 million if completed.
This columnist spoke to the Director General, Media Centre for National Security, Lakshman Hulugalle before writing this story and inquired whether the media would be subjected to the new emergency regulations and he gave an emphatic 'no.' Specifically asked whether reporting on a construction was prohibited, he once again replied in the negative but said he was unaware of the construction adverted to.
Be that as it may, even as the construction work continued on the luxury bunker apace, a little away at Temple Trees, the President was grappling with the political and economic issues which were threatening to damn the administration with no respite for the people in sight.
In fact the failure to deal effectively with the peace process has resulted in aid systematically drying up, not to mention tourism and foreign exchange with even the majority of the tsunami victims of December 2004 still living in makeshift tents.
However, this state of affairs in the country has not stopped the President from launching grandiose projects such as a new budget airline using the monies of the poor workers with reports also of rampant corruption in the government, forcing the UNP itself to awaken from its deep slumber.
These issues were brought home forcefully to UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe by the membership on his return from the US and urged to take the fight to the government notwithstanding the MoU with the SLFP.
Wickremesinghe too sensed the impatience of the party membership and prior to Monday's Working Committee discussed the MoU with national list MP G.L. Peiris and former Chairman Malik Samarawickrama.
It was said in this discussion that the very foundation of the MoU was evolving a devolution package to resolve the ethnic conflict and if that was not done speedily, the UNP will have no justification to continue with it. 'We cannot watch silently in the light of what is going on in the country. The MPs are getting restless,' Samarawickrama had said.
And it is this message Wickremesinghe took with him for the meeting with President Rajapakse on Wednesday, where the urgency to evolve a political package was stressed.
The President for his part did not appear to have a clear plan of action but did indicate the need to wrest the initiative in the east and said he would await the outcome of the All Party Representative Committee (APRC) before proceeding to forward the devolution package.
Not stopping at that, Rajapakse spoke of the JVP's withdrawal from the APRC and opined the Marxists were on the verge of splitting, with the hard-core in the party emerging stronger.
Wickremesinghe however told Rajapakse war was not an option and that a political package needed to be submitted without further delay.
The UNP Leader told the President the cornerstone of the SLFP-UNP MoU was evolving such a policy package and the party would cooperate with the APRC in that endeavour provided the end product is in keeping with the MoU.
Whether President Rajapakse understood Wickremesinghe's message, it was not clear, but it necessarily meant looking at a solution more in line with the Majority Report of the Experts Committee, which called for maximum devolution within a united Sri Lanka, where the unitary state concept was also jettisoned. Simply put, a federal solution all but in name.
SLFP-UNP policy document
In this context, it is relevant to recall the SLFP-UNP policy document on the 'ethnic issue' embodied in the MoU.
That document states, inter alia, 'The cornerstone of the political solution is power sharing within the country on a basis acceptable to the Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim communities and reflecting the experience of our country over the last few decades.'
It adds - 'The basic assumption underlying an equitable framework for power sharing is that the central government would be invested with all powers, functions and responsibilities essential for the effective conduct of national policy in all fields, principally including but not limited to defence and security, foreign relations, the national budget, monetary policy, elections, immigration and emigration, national planning, shipping and navigation and related matters, while other matters will fall within the purview of regional administrations.'
The document further stated that the demarcation between the central and regional functions will be worked out in detail between the parties and all relevant groups with particular attention paid to fiscal consideration where care will be taken to ensure the regional administrations will have access to adequate resources to carry out their functions.
The Majority Report of the Experts Committee also spoke of maximum devolution within a united Sri Lanka whilst also providing for a 10 year merger of the north and east.
Thus, it is evident, the SLFP-UNP MoU contemplates a solution more in keeping with the Majority Report of the Experts Committee and that exactly was the point the UNP Leader was driving home to the President.
Wickremesinghe also told the President the US whilst welcoming the MoU between the two parties also wanted a devolution package to be forwarded early so that it can be presented to the LTTE and talks resumed.
It will be recalled that LTTE Political Wing Leader S.P. Tamilselvan said after the abortive Geneva II talks that the Tigers would welcome a consensus between the SLFP and UNP and stands ready to negotiate on the strength of such a package if forwarded for their consideration.
And that is what the international community is also looking forward to for the revival of the peace process.
In fact, UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake last week wrote to APRC Chairman, Minister Tissa Vitharana stating party representatives K.N. Choksy and G.L. Peiris will be participating at the next session to present their case.
However, given the President's ire over the Majority Report and JVP's withdrawal from the APRC, Vitharana has now been instructed to submit a report encompassing the dissenting opinions as well, which he is expected to do before the next session.
Yet another report
Thus, what will be presented to the APRC will be a report incorporating all views which emerged in their deliberations and the Expert Committee reports, which in effect would be a dilution of the Majority Report.
This report will not have the UNP proposals since it has hitherto not participated in the APC but a copy is to be forward to the party as well for consideration.
This would necessarily fall short of the proposals included in the SLFP-UNP MoU, which Wickremesinghe has insisted should be the basis of the final package if the party is to accept same.
In this situation, the APC initiative is all but a dead letter and the President, the UNP and the international community know it only too well, with more violence the only certainty.
It is this sense of hopelessness which prevailed when the Co-Chairs -EU, US, Japan and Norway - and their Colombo missions had a teleconference Friday, December 15, with the consensus being that there was a lack of commitment both on the part of the government and the LTTE to the peace process.
The Co-Chairs took the view there can be no military situation to the conflict, that there must be respect for human rights and aid humanitarian access and space for relief agencies and civilians.
Interestingly, Norway's International Development Minister Erik Solheim venting his frustrations on the lack of progress said there will be no new initiatives on the part of the facilitator. Simply put, they would go into hibernation.
Solheim was particularly hard on the state media and bitterly complained of them carrying out a campaign of vilification against him based on unfounded allegations made by Karuna. He said what he cannot understand is why a media institution run by the state carried out such a campaign against him.
The Norwegian Minister further said if either of the parties did not want Norway, all they had to do was say so and Norway would move out.
Solheim went on to say this type of campaign must stop and he in fact was to say so to President Rajapakse as well.
The Co-Chairs for their part not only expressed full support for Solheim but said they too would make strong representations to the government on the issue.
That apart, there was also agreement, the Co-Chairs would support a political solution based on the Oslo Communiqu? and the Tokyo Donor Conference.
The bottom line however was that the international community will now sit back and watch how events unfold in Sri Lanka without making any fresh initiatives to get the peace process started, except keep a close watch on the human rights situation.
Further, given the massive defence budget, there is also consensus among the international community, the government will not be given budget support with discussions also underway with multilateral agencies such as the ADB, World Bank and IMF on what they propose to do on that score.
It is in this overall context, President Rajapakse has come to realise he is checkmated on all fronts with a full-scale war too only bound to further devastate the economy, hence the contemplated snap general election.
In fact, after his discussion with the President, Wickremesinghe too left with the impression a snap election maybe on the cards as told by him to confidants after the meeting.
The President himself is advised to that effect by the likes of Basil Rajapakse and national list MP Dulles Alahapperuma, who feel only a fresh mandate can get the government out of the right royal pickle it finds itself in.
Towards this end, both the JVP and JHU have been approached to enter into fresh MoUs to give the President a little more flexibility after an election with Rajapakse confident he can not only rope in the two parties but also some UNP MPs.
The President of course is working on the premise the likes of Nandana Gunatilleke, Wimal Weerawansa, and a powerful group within the JVP will join the SLFP given the internal dissension in the party.
The strategy is for the government to clear the east of the LTTE, invite the Tigers for talks and go for elections on the back of the euphoria generated.
Such a strategy is of course based on the assumption the LTTE will not strike back with equal ferocity and send the economy too into a tailspin as was evident after the attack on the airport, in which event the political consequences for Rajapakse would be disastrous.
It is these uncertainties that have placed the President in a political catch 22 situation with no light at the end of the tunnel and the mounting pressure from India has only made a bad situation worse for Rajapakse.
It was just last week, President of the Indian Congress Party, Sonia Gandhi in writing informed Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi that the policy of the Indian government is not to provide Sri Lanka with arms and material which could be used against the civilian population, particularly the Tamil population.
More telling was Gandhi's message of the Congress Party position that nothing should be done that would affect the lives of the Tamils in Sri Lanka whose 'welfare remains a matter of utmost concern.'
It is soon after this letter became public that a TNA parliamentary delegation comprising R. Sampanthan, Mavai Senathirajah, Suresh Premachandran, Gajan Ponnambalam and Selvan Adaikalanthan left for Tamil Nadu to meet Karunanidhi.
At this meeting, which took place on Wednesday, December 20 between 12:45 p.m. and 1:15 p.m, the plight of the Tamil civilians due to the ongoing conflict was articulated by Sampanthan.
Emphasising the humanitarian crisis, abductions and human rights violations, the TNA delegation called on Karunanidhi to use his good offices with the central government to bring pressure to bear on the Sri Lankan government.
Karunanidhi was to assure the TNA delegation he will do whatever is possible within the laws of India.
The very next day, Karunanidhi took wing to Delhi and so did the TNA separately for a meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the first since the Tamil MPs openly started supporting the LTTE.
And by the time the TNA delegation went for the meeting with the Indian Premier, they were also armed with information that the Governor of the North and East, Mohan Wijewickrema had, on the authority of the President, split the north and east into two separate administrative units.
Accordingly, one administrative unit for the north is to be set up in Vavuniya and for the east in Ampara, with Trincomalee to come directly under the Governor.
Thus, when the TNA met Manmohan Singh, they spoke of the civilians' plight and the humanitarian crisis, appealing for India to use its good offices and ensure the people get some respite. The question of the north east merger was also raised and the Indian Premier expressed his displeasure over the de-merger.
The briefing from the TNA perspective was comprehensive, buttressed with instances of human rights violations.
Firm action promised
The Indian Prime Minister reiterated the position of his government that the problem can only be solved politically with respect for the human rights of the people. Associated with the Indian Premier were Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon and National Security Advisor N.K. Narayanan.
The Indian Premier also said he appreciated the problems faced by the civilian population and assured some firm action will be taken to alleviate their suffering.
The Prime Minister further said he told President Mahinda Rajapakse both in Havana and more recently in Delhi that India has a special concern and is sensitive to the Tamil people of Sri Lanka and that she cannot accept Tamil people being made to suffer.
He went on to say India will continue to do all in her power to ensure the suffering of the Tamil people will stop.
We want to see that the Tamil people can live with dignity and full security with the acceptance of their political rights, the Premier had also said.
And the most telling message of the Indian Premier was in his posing for photographs with the TNA delegation, having denied that opportunity to President Mahinda Rajapakse just weeks earlier.
What the President will do well to ponder in this scenario is why the TNA which was practically an outcast in 2003 is today accepted with open arms in Delhi. Rajapakse must realise that this development is because the Sri Lankan policy not just towards India but the Tamil people have undergone a dramatic change due to a hardline approach.
It is therefore significant given the helplessness of the Co-Chairs to get the peace process revived that India has stepped into the breach especially given the civilian exodus to Tamil Nadu and the pressure mounted by Karunanidhi.
Given all these facts, President Rajapakse has his plate full and come New Year, it will be decision time at least with regard to submitting a political package, which will either see the parting of ways with the UNP or the JVP.
Edited By - Thivya - 26 Dec 2006 15:06:33 GMT