The main Opposition UNP, the JVP, the JHU and the LTTE yesterday in separate statements dismissed government claims that the ceasefire agreement was amended at last week`s Geneva talks.
The LTTE registered its strong protest to President Mahinda Rajapaksa, expressing deep displeasure over the stand taken by the Government`s negotiating team claiming the ceasefire agreement was amended.
LTTE`s chief negotiator Anton Balasingham was quoted in the TamilNet as conveying to the government through the Norwegian facilitators the LTTE`s serious concern and disapproval.
`These attempts to distort and misinterpret the joint statement issued by the parties after the Geneva talks will damage mutual trust and seriously undermine the peace process`, Mr. Balasingham said.
`We regret to note that senior lawyer and government delegate H.L. De Silva, in a statement to the `Daily Mirror` reiterated his fabulous theory that the ceasefire agreement was amended. His new set of arguments are ludicrous and feeble and do not reinforce the logic of his contention. Mr Silva`s central theme is that the issues discussed and undertakings given by the parties in the joint statement are not specifically mentioned in the original document and therefore constitute an amendment of the earlier agreement.
`This argument is untenable and seriously flawed since the undertakings given by the parties reflect and correspond to the cardinal issues of the CFA and fall within its conceptual framework. Even if the issues discussed transcend the confines of the text of the original truce, they cannot be construed as amendments. For example, there were six joint statements issued after six sessions of talks between Ranil Wickremesinghe`s government and the LTTE, which recorded several decisions taken and undertakings given by the parties, most of which were not specifically mentioned in the CFA, but are conceptually related issues of the truce. That doesn`t mean all the issues discussed and undertakings given by the parties amounted to amendments`, Mr Balasingham explained.
`Amending the clauses of the CFA is a very serious matter, which needs the approval of the parties in conflict and the facilitating government, and endorsement by the signatures of the Sri Lankan President, the LTTE leader and the Norwegian Foreign Minister. I am surprised that Mr. de Silva has taken this international agreement superficially, ignoring or failing to understand its implications. His thesis is illogical and incoherent, based on pure fantasy. This intervention by Mr de Silva, we can only conclude, is politically motivated, aimed at placating the Sinhala hardliners, but certainly not a constructive engagement to promote peace`, Mr. Balasingham said.
Meanwhile the UNP yesterday once against stressed that either the Ministers who represented the government at the Geneva talks or President Rajapaksa should reveal the clauses that were amended at the talks
Responding to claims by Mr. de Silva on the government`s stand UNP MP Bandula Gunawardane said the government should stop making contradictory statements.
?It is true that Mr. de Silva is a well-known legal expert who was a member of the government delegation but it is the ministers who participated at the talks or the President who should make a statement in this regard?, he said.
Mr. Gunawardena said the parties involved in the talks were making contradictory statements and therefore it was up to the government to disclose what sections of the agreement was amended, and how it was done.
?The President together with the JVP instructed the peace delegation from a special operational centre set up at Temple Trees. Now these parties are making different statements?, he said.
Mr. Gunawardena said the matter would be raised at the UNP working committee and a decision taken if the government continues to mislead the people further.
The JVP politburo at a meeting on Monday decided that at the All Party Conference it would denounce the government directly for accepting the ceasefire agreement as expressed in the joint statement issued after the Geneva talks.
Party sources said the politburo led by JVP leader Somawansa Amarasinghe decided to express their disappointment directly to the President.
?They will urge the President to correct this fault at future peace talks and said the party would take drastic action if the government fails to do so?, he said.
The JHU yesterday rejected outright government claims that the ceasefire agreement was amended at the Geneva talks despite the government maintaining it was so.
JHU General Secretary Dr. Ven. Omalpe Sobitha Thera told the Daily Mirror yesterday that the government-LTTE joint statement issued at the end of the talks was a poor substitute for the amendments required to protect the national security and human rights in the North and East.
The Thera said the clause referring to child soldiers and children`s rights cannot be considered comprehensive as no mechanisms or guidelines for the protection of children in the north and east have been mentioned.
? It is too general a statement to serve its purpose?, the monk said. He said at the APC to be held on Monday the JHU would make its protest known on the Geneva agreement.
?We hope to inform the President that the MOU signed between the UPFA and the JHU prior to the presidential election has been violated by the government`s failure to amend the ceasefire?, he said.
Calling for stronger amendments to the ceasefire to control LTTE atrocities in the north and east, the Thera said the JHU was against granting Army protection for LTTE political offices in the East.
?This would breathe life back to the LTTE in the East and would undermine attempts by security forces to free the north and east from LTTE`s hold?, he said.
The JHU delegation would also highlight the Karuna issue at the APC and question the Government`s acceptance that armed groups were operating in the north and east.