If you want continued peace, the choice is simple! tells GL

Mar 3 (IL) UNF spokesman Minister G .L. Peiris asked the JVP/SLFP Alliance on what grounds they would go for talks with the LTTE and would they declare the peace process so far null and void. The full text of the statement issued by Minister G. L. Peiris is as follows:

'In a press release issued last Friday the JVP/SLFP Alliance has stated that they are 'committed to a political dialogue with the LTTE'. We do not doubt their sincerity in wanting to talk to the LTTE but the problem lies in how they intend to do this and on what grounds. In their November 4th 2003 response to the LTTE's proposals for an Interim Self Governing Authority (ISGA) the SLFP savaged the LTTE proposals. In total the document finds over thirty objections to the LTTE proposals and reiterates the view that the solution to the ethnic conflict lies in the devolution of power within a united Sri Lanka.

On Friday last Lakshman Kadirgamar went on to say that the "People's Alliance (not the so called Freedom Alliance) has made it clear that it could not agree with some matters (in the document). But we have said that everything can be negotiatedd."

In the light of their November 4, 2003 response what exactly does this mean? If the JVP/SLFP Alliance really want to enter into talks with the LTTE on what grounds will they enter those talks? Will they start afresh and insist that all previous negotiations are null and void? If they do declare all negotiations null and void then are they also turning their backs on the Ceasefire Agreement, the Oslo Declaration, the Tokyo Declaration and the Co-Chairs statement in Washington?

They will be turning their backs on two years of peace without giving any assurances to the people about what they will put in its place.

Will they rescind the role of the Norwegians as facilitators (originally initiated by the President herself) and will they also rescind the remit of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) about which the JVP in particular are so critical?

The JVP/SLFP Alliance spokesman Lakshman Kadirgamar is reported in one paper as saying in their recent press conference that "There will be no preconditions to commence talks". Yet in another newspaper the Leader of the JVP Parliamentary Group, Wimal Weerawansa is reported as having said that "the next government of which they are partners will lay down conditions for the LTTE towards achieving permanent peace". Which is it to be? Will they lay down conditions or won't they - and perhaps more critical what will the LTTE do in response?

Article 2 of their Friday press release states that the ceasefire will stand: but the ceasefire is based upon the Ceasefire Agreement which the JVP have totally rejected and over which the President is ambivalent.

Then there is the question of Federalism versus Decentralisation of power. Who will win this argument in the JVP/SLFP Alliance? For the JVP has repeatedly rejected the idea of a Federal State which means that they also reject the provisions made in the Oslo Accord. However the SLFP and President have made it clear that they approve of a Federal solution and reject any form of Decentralisation so it would seem that they are in favour of the Oslo Accord. So will the Oslo Accord stand or will it be scrapped? It is important to know what their approach will be in any potential future negotiations because the Oslo meeting also saw, for the first time, the LTTE withdrawing their demands for a state of Eelam.

If the JVP have their way and the Oslo Accord is scrapped then they will be indicating to the LTTE that they can re-instate their demands for Eelam. Who then will be dividing the country, the UNP Government who brought a divided country together or a JVP/SLFP Alliance which intends to destroy all the work of the past two years?

There is a further twist to the problems the JVP/SLFP Alliances faces. The Washington meeting of the Co-Chairs made it clear that the three conditions for receiving aid made at Tokyo would stand.

These were to take the Ceasefire Agreement forward. But that can't be done because the JVP rejects the agreement. To create a Federal system within a united Sri Lanka -that also can't be done because the JVP won't agree to a Federal solution.

The third condition was to reduce the militarisation in the country gradually. Again there would be problems with that because the JVP have repeatedly laid the claim that the LTTE are operating within Government areas and should be stopped. This is of course despite the Defence and Interior Ministries being in the hands of the President for the past four months.

So again the position of the JVP/Alliance looks hopeless unless they can tell the people which views prevail. With their current confused stand the country would not receive a single Rupee of donor aid.

Yes the UNP is saying that war is likely once more left in the hands of the JVP/SLFP Alliance.

Not because we want to frighten the people but because peace is a delicate and carefully negotiated process which cannot be treated with such ignorant disregard.

Ranil Wickremesinghe and his Government have brought peace to Sri Lanka; that is fact. He is the only one who can bring a lasting peace to Sri Lanka and he is the only person who is able to re- unite our once divided country.

If you want continued peace then the choice is simple. A vote for Ranil Wickremesinghe and the UNP will bring you lasting peace with honour for all.