The only way to prevent the imminent division of the country is to prevent further `military setbacks` and also mobilize maximum support for the country both nationally and internationally, the UNP said yesterday.
The minimum this would require, the UNP said in a special statement, was the removal of Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse and entrusting the defence of the country to a capable and competent official with experience and strategic vision such as General Janaka Perera.
`The growing political and military crisis in Sri Lanka had demonstrated the bankruptcy of the Mahinda Chinthana. Paying pooja to an empty slogan and lighting incense to cardboard heroes had put the country`s future into jeopardy, the UNPsaid.
In December 2005, the LTTE, which prevented the Tamils from voting at the Presidential Election of 2005, stood isolated internationally. The European Union listed the LTTE as a terrorist organisation the following year. However, today, the Mahinda Rajapakse government had been unable to mobilise international support to counter the LTTE air attacks, the UNP said.
In the past, the Government of Sri Lanka was respected internationally for its adherence to democracy and its respect for human rights. This differentiated us from the terrorist activities of the LTTE. Today, the Rajapakse government was competing with the LTTE in
(i) violating human rights through its abductions and disappearances
(ii) suppressing the free media, and
(iii) undermining democracy.
The UNP said: `Furthermore, the Mahinda Chinthana Government`s single minded concentration on family rule has angered even its political allies and poisoned its relations with other political parties. Corruption is rampant in every sphere of public life. As a result, the Mahinda Rajapakse government is isolated even within the country.
While the Government has trumpeted on the need for a political solution to the ethnic question, the President has yet to put forward his proposals. Nor has the President followed the UNP in accepting the proposals formulated by the Chairman of the APRC, Prof. Tissa Vitharana. The recently announced SLFP proposals are nothing new. Indeed they appear to be based on a draft bill, to establish District and Provincial Councils, presented to the All Party Conference in 1984. This was not acceptable then to the Tamil Political parties and groups. The Tamil parties and groups finally agreed to give up the demand for a separate state when the Indo-Lanka Agreement of 1987 was entered into. The present proposals to reintroduces District Councils have only undermined the credibility of these Tamil parties as regards the Sri Lanka Government and strengthened the Tamil support for the LTTE.
The Mahinda Chinthana offered face-to-face talks between Mahinda Rajapakse and Prabhakaran as the best solution for the North-East crisis. However, as the country now knows, the only talks that took place were those between the representatives of Mahinda and Prabhakaran before the Presidential Elections. After the secret deal fell apart, the Mahinda Rajapakse government announced `the war to crush the LTTE` led by the Rajapakse family. This was a decision to go to war without a detailed military plan in place. There was no consultation with competent military officers.
The twelve month campaign has consisted of ad hoc military operations and reactive responses to LTTE strikes. The so - called success of the war was limited to the media. After each operation the Defence Ministry and the media announced to the country the end of the LTTE`s military might. Today, not only is the LTTE military capacity intact but they have demonstrated their air power - the first terrorist organisation with an air force. The air attacks by a few propeller driven aircraft have exposed the lack of air defence. As a result the Katunayake International Airport is now closed from 10 pm to 4 am. The Government and the media is now engaged in building a Political Air Raid Shelter to prevent the President and his brother from being hit by the political debris of this attack. This demonstrates the incompetence of the Government in regard to military affairs. The prime responsibility for this falls on the Secretary to the Ministry of Defence who is unable to understand the basic principles of using military force to achieve political goals. As a result the Rajapakse family has only strengthened the LTTE and weakened the government at the negotiating table.
Unless this trend is reversed the consequence for our country will be a negotiated political solution on the basis of the LTTE proposals not ours.. This, of course, cannot be allowed.
The only way to prevent the imminent division of the country is by:
a. preventing further military setbacks and ensuring that we are not militarily weak at the negotiating table;
b. mobilising the maximum support both nationally and internationally to prevent the divisions of the country.
As the minimum this would require:
1. the removal of the present Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse and entrusting the defence of our country to a capable and competent official with experience and strategic vision such as General Janaka Perera.
2. 2.1 Protecting the territorial integrity of the country and the sovereignty of its people.
2.2. Opposing terrorism in all its manifestations.
2.3 Negotiating a political settlement for a long-lasting peace acceptable to all communities which accommodates their legitimate aspirations. Such a settlement must be approved by the people at a referendum.
2.4 Upholding of human rights by all parties including carrying investigations in to the abductions and disappearances, and the removal of the culture of impunity.This implies the effective implementation of the undertakings given by the Government in this regard to the international community.
2.5 The immediate resolution of outstanding humanitarian issues, including the prompt rehabilitation of internally displaced persons. The government to provide full cooperation to the international humanitarian organizations to carry out these tasks.
2.6 Guaranteeing of all democratic rights. This should include the immediate appointment of the Constitutional Council and a resolution of the other issues affecting governance.
2.7 The government submitting credible power-sharing proposals that can form the basis of a viable negotiated settlement without any further delay.
2.8 The Co-chairs and India to arrange for an immediate cessation of the conflict and a resumption of talks between the Government and the LTTE.
3 Coming to an agreement with the International donor community on the support to be given to Sri Lanka if the LTTE fails to respond positively to the programme mentioned in (2) above.
But this cannot be done under a government wedded to the Mahinda Chinthana and a President promoting family rule. That has only produced a failed state.`