fast to stop
Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapakse threatens more
agitational campaigns if the government led by Prime Minister
Ranil Wickremesinghe fails to immediately bring a “halt” to
the political killings that have been taking place recently. He
says if ignored right now, it might escalate to an unprecedented
level. “Then it would be too late for anyone to tackle this
menace,” he told The Sunday Leader in an interview. He said even
the protest campaign that was organised in parliament was to
express the opposition’s deep anger and anguish over the recent
Following are excepts;
main opposition has been agitating against the spate of killings that
have taken place in the country. Has there been any success in this
agitation would be successful only if the government takes
corrective measures to curb the violence spree that has been released
against leading political figures. This is not happening. The government
is turning a blind eye to the present situation. But we will continue to
agitate against these acts of terror which the government I feel is not
doing anything about at the moment. Our aim is to open the eyes of the
government to this type of brutal killings
of our party men and
Q: Do you think the crime rate is unprecedented and if so what do you see
as the cause for this?
Most certainly in the recent past the crime rate has become
unprecedented. Take for example the brutal and tactical assassination of
M. K. Ranjith within the high security zone and at the doorstep of the
CID. Is this not unprecedented? If the police could not prevent murder
taking place in the HSZ at
least they could have apprehended the assassins. But that did not
happen. I see the reason for this as the government not recognising the
fact that there is a spate of ‘sponsored’ violence taking place at
the moment. It is an obvious fact that the situation would escalate to
unprecedented levels especially because there are no corrective measures
taken. This is why we are protesting.
Q: Do you think politicians are directly involved in these killings and
if anyone of your members are found to be
involved in these acts of terror would you take action against
certainly. Action would be taken against anybody who is inciting
violence. About politicians getting involved in these killings, I may
not be able to answer it since currently investigations are being
carried out by police. It
is up to them to say who is involved directly.
Q: Last Thursday the main opposition carried out an ugly protest against
the government inside parliament with some MPs like Mangala Samaraweera
and Dilan Perera behaving like hooligans.
Was this protest carried
out with your blessings?
we function in and out of parliament as a collective opposition. In
collectivity there is unison.
Q: Though the PA members were conducting a mock funeral inside
parliament, the JVP however was seen
maintaining a low profile. How do you view this when both the JVP and SLFP are trying to tie up?
JVP participated equally and collectively. In the democratic process one
has the freedom to express their views to whatever extent they feel
necessary. Remember once again we are a collective opposition. Also, at
the moment, discussions are still on with regard to the JVP-SLFP
alliance. There are some areas which need more deliberations and we are
working on these.
Q: Reports indicate the proposed plan for both the JVP and SLFP to
coalesce is facing a crisis situation. What is happening?
I do not think that the negotiations are facing a crisis situation.
Where there are different views it takes longer to negotiate and come to
a final agreement. On the aspect of practicality well, if we can agree
to a common path in the best interest of our motherland it would be a
very pragmatic and practical approach. But the discussions are going on
between both parties and we assume something positive would happen.
Q: Some opposition members have said it is high time President Chandrika
Kumaratunga brought under her control the Police Department. Are you
aware of it?
am really not aware of it. Some members may have said it. However in my
view the President has the constitutional right
and authority to take over any ministry or institution at any
given point of time for whatever reason for the good of the nation. I am
not aware of any action of such. However let me reiterate the fact that
a solution is required as soon as possible to the present crime
situation in the country.
Q: In another two years President Kumaratunga will have to step down from
her presidency. But yet the PA has not been able to identify a potential
presidential candidate. Has the party given thought to it?
The party will address the question when the time comes. I have a
feeling it is a little too premature to think about it.
Q: In the meantime you have been portrayed as the most suitable candidate
for this post by a section of the opposition. If given the chance would
you accept it?
No. It is not a question of accepting or rejecting. A section of the PA
may think this way, but finally it is the party’s central committee
that should decide upon this.
Q: Why do you think Anura Bandaranaike has already begun strengthening
himself by appointing special committees for this post. Do you think he
any democratic political system or party there are aspirants for the
leadership. This is the true nature of the democracy in our party. When
the appropriate time comes the party membership would decide on this
Q: Today is the party convention and what role would you play being one
of the pioneer members of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP)?
all have an equal role to play in the party. I have for the last 35
years been with the SLFP and we have toiled to bring the party to its
present position. Today what is of paramount imporatnce is to re-model
the party and strengthen the grassroot level organisation in order to
face the many challenges ahead. The most important factor here is to
tune us towards finding solutions to the many problems faced by the
polity of Sri Lanka. And I must emphasise here that our party is fully
geared to face any such national problem. We did govern the country and
showed our capability after we won in 1994. In fact it was our party
that started the peace process for the first time in this country. Now
it is only a matter of doing some extra work to further strengthen and
streamline the party especially at the grassroot level.
Q: The main opposition claims that Sri Lanka cannot benefit by the
substantial aid package received in Tokyo. Do you feel the same?
we talk about utilisation what we need to know are the conditions under
which these monies have been pledged. As per our understanding there are
conditions and or pre-requisites that has been imposed on the peace
process, economic conditions such as privatisation of i.e. water,
electricity, fisheries harbours etc. There is also the question of
interest and repayment period. According to the information we have the
annual interest payment amounts to somewhere in the region of US$ 220
million. Can the Sri Lankan economy sustain this? Unless the government
has not effectively negotiated terms with the donor countries especially
when considering the cost benefit analysis of the utilisation of such
funds, wherein the benefit from numerous development projects would be
more socially oriented than financially, Sri Lanka in time to come will
be a heavily debt ridden country.
Q: The LTTE has demanded for a politico-administrative structure
rejecting all other proposals put forward by the government. Do you
think this is justifiable?
An interim council or an ‘administrative structure’ has been
suggested to the LTTE both by the then PA government and the UNF
presently. The difference being that the UNF in its endeavour is not
clear in their approach. I would say that they are trying to ‘run with
the rabbit and hunt with the hound.’
Let the government be transparent in their attempts at peace.
Though the government says that they want a consultation process firstly
with President Kumaratunga and all other parties, their actions do not
portray this. Our stand is very clear. We have declared this through the
package introduced in 2001. The President agreed to an interim
administrative structure based on conditions.
justified when the ceasefire agreement itself was framed outside the
He said if the ceasefire agreement that was drafted outside the
constitution has paved the way for solid peace in the country, he cannot
see any reason why the government cannot do the same thing to set up the
interim administration and give the LTTE a legal body through which it
could have a politico- administrative and decision making body to play a
dominant role in the administration. "If there is a will there is a
way. I also think the problem faced by the government from the executive
is also preventing them from fulfilling the demands of the LTTE,"
he told The Sunday Leader in an interview.
There is a fear in the country that the present impasse, after the LTTE
refused to participate in the donor conference, would lead to full-scale
war in the country again. Are you of the same opinion?
As far as I am concerned the LTTE will not return to war. The LTTE is
fully committed to a negotiated settlement and peace. There were several
provocations following the ceasefire agreement, but the LTTE withstood
everything for the sake of peace. Therefore the LTTE's commitment is
very firm. And they will not revert back to war until and unless they
are forced to return.
Do you see any justification in the LTTE's continuous refusal to accept
proposals put forward by Premier Wickremesinghe in regard to the interim
There is sufficient reason for the LTTE to refuse what was offered by
the Prime Minister, taking into consideration the past experience and
the history of this country in regard to the ethnic issue. You see, the
LTTE, which was fighting for a separate state and was in a formidable
position in terms of war, unilaterally declared a ceasefire and also
signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the government because they
felt the sufferings of the Tamil people had to be alleviated.
are now firmly committed to a negotiated settlement. They have taken
part in six rounds of talks. What was promised during the talks has not
been implemented. So the LTTE has real
suspicion about the present proposal. They feel it is difficult to
overcome red tape and bureaucracy through the setting up of the apex
body. So they think any tangible implementation on the ground has to be
through a structure, which will give the LTTE a politico-administrative
and decision making body where they would be allowed to play a dominant
role. Therefore the proposals submitted by the Prime Minister do not in
any way answer the demands of the LTTE. That falls very short of their
Many experts, including foreign diplomats say that peace cannot be
achieved if the Tigers are so rigid. How do you view their statements?
It is wrong to say that the Tigers are rigid in their demands. As I
explained earlier, first of all the sufferings of the Tamil people have
to be removed. That can only be achieved by restructuring and relocating
the displaced people and rehabilitating them. It also includes
rehabilitating the war torn north east. In this respect they need a very
formidable and a very strong set up to administer the region. Their
demand which is
to alleviate the
suffering of the people, cannot be considered as something that is
Does the TULF believe that the UNF government led by Prime Minister
Wickremesinghe is genuine in handling the peace process?
As far as the TULF is concerned the party has faith in the Prime
Minister in handling the peace process. But we still feel there is a
rift between the executive and the legislature. How can the Prime
Minster overcome this? There is no sign of cohabitation or support by
the President. In fact it was President Kumaratunga who long before the
UNF proposed, offered an interim administration also for 10 years. At
the time she offered she never spoke about laying down of arms. Her
offer was unconditional. But now we find the same President trying to
say she will de-merge the north east.
interim administration is not a new concept. Under the Indo-Lanka
Agreement of 1987 an interim administrative structure was proposed and
the LTTE was offered the majority portion of that council. Why is she at
this juncture talking about not agreeing for an interim administration
and the de-merger of the north east. This is a clear indication that she
to scuttle the peace process, which would be in my view a
disaster to the entire country. This is the most opportune time for the
Sinhala polity to support the peace process because I don't think
another opportunity will be there in the future.
Why do you think the government is reluctant to give what the LTTE
Well I think it is because of the non-cooperation of the executive
that the government is unable to fulfil the demands of the LTTE. The
government feels that any interim administrative structure should be
within the parameters of the constitution. But what I would like to
remind the government is this. When the ceasefire agreement was signed
between the government and the LTTE there was no basis for it within the
laws of Sri Lanka. It was an extra constitutional instrument on which
the country's peace has withstood for more than 15 months and it has
laid a solid foundation for peace. Why can't the government apply the
same process in formulating an interim administrative structure outside
the constitution like the ceasefire agreement?
personal opinion is that the Tamils are fully justified in asking for an
extra constitutional interim mechanism to rebuild and rehabilitate the
north east because they never accepted the constitution the Britishers
left behind in 1948, the 1972 constitution and the 1978 constitution
which concentrated the legislative, financial and judicial affairs of
the island in the hands of the majority of the country. Therefore I
think the LTTE's demand in asking for a interim administrative structure
is reasonable and justifiable, where they could play a dominant role
politically, administratively and financially.
The general perception is that the LTTE would participate at tomorrow's
donor conference. How do you see it? Do you think failure to participate
would be disadvantageous to the LTTE?
The LTTE's leadership in the latest reply to Prime Minister Ranil
Wickremesinghe has clearly stated that if an assurance is given that
a draft framework for an interim administrative structure along the
lines proposed by the LTTE leadership is given by the Prime Minister
they would resume negotiations. So the ball is now in the government's
today the Prime Minister has not responded to the request made by the
LTTE leadership. Therefore one can be convinced that their participation
in the Tokyo conference is not possible. To answer the other question,
this donor conference is not only for the rebuilding of the war torn
north east region. This conference is also a part of the annual aid
consortium for the government. If
the donor countries are really interested in rebuilding, rehabilitating
and restructuring the war ravaged north eastern region I don't think
there is any reason for them to not dole out funds for this humanitarian
aspect whether the LTTE participates or not. Participation of the LTTE
should not be taken as a primary concern for the donors not to dole out
money for the humanitarian projects facing the war torn areas in the
The TULF seems to be in troubled waters, with the LTTE demanding that
its Leader, V. Anandasangaree should step down. What is the actual
Nobody has asked the TULF leader to step down. There are various conflicting reports to this
effect in the media and the central committee will meet shortly to
decide on this. I don't want to comment further.
Many people are of the view that the TULF has lost its lustre and
credibility owing to internal conflicts. As a senior member of the
party, what steps are you taking to bring back the
In a democratic political party there will be differences of opinion
within the party's rank and file. It does not mean that the party has
lost its credibility or its grassroots support among the Tamil people. A
process of dialogue and discussion will settle any controversy or
disputes by the members of the central committee.
While the TULF Leader Anandasangaree is fully opposed to the LTTE, the
other members seem to act as the voice of the Tigers. What is your view?
I don't want to comment on it.