proposals all set for release
National Alliance (TNA) parliamentarians after a meeting with the LTTE
Political Chief said yesterday that the Tigers' counterproposals reflect
the aspirations of Tamil people.
is a comprehensive document which reflects the aspirations of Tamil
people," TNA MP Sivajilingam told reporters. "There is no
conflict between our stance (on the ethnic question) and the LTTE
counter proposals," he said.
MP Suresh Premachandra said the LTTE Political Chief had called for
suggestions from the TNA delegations. "We believe that our
suggestions will be included in the final proposals."
Daily News, October 24, 2003
last day of this month has been fixed as the tentative date on which the
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) will present their proposals to
Norway for setting up an interim administration for the North Eastern
Province of Sri Lanka.
that does take place without any hitch then October 31 will indeed be a
red letter day in the annals of the nation's contemporary history.
Whatever the merits or otherwise of the proposals, it is an event of
great significance because the Tigers will for the first time be
presenting in written form their own suggestions for a political
settlement within a united Sri Lanka.
Tigers in the recent past have been engaged in an exercise of
revolutionary constitutionalism. Much time and work has been devoted to
this project. Nominally it is only a set of counter proposals comprising
a response to the four page discussion document presented on July 17 by
the United National Front (UNF) government.
content however goes far beyond that of a formal reply and encompasses a
wide range of issues. The LTTE has encapsuled in its penultimate draft
the Tiger vision for constitutional change in Sri Lanka. The proposals
consist of several parts and are phased out with the completion of one
phase leading to the commencement of another on the road to the ultimate
solution. It calls for a very bold reinvention of the Sri Lankan state
and equitable structures of power sharing to ensure the unity and
territorial integrity of Sri Lanka in the future.
Tiger draft has been a closely guarded secret with even Norwegian Peace
Envoys Erik Solheim and Lisa Gold being denied a peek so far. Former
EROS and current LTTE Senior Leader, Velupillai Balakumaran has gone on
record that the Tiger document will alter the fate of Tamils in the
country. This underscores the importance of this draft. Yet the Tamil
people have neither been informed nor consulted on the whole exercise.
Only a few select people labelled as 'experts' have been involved. The
Tamil people therefore watch as silent spectators the unfolding of a
drama that could elevate them to ecstatic heights or plunge them into
members of the pro-Tiger Tamil National Alliance (TNA) however were
provided some glimpses into the draft response. Two representatives,
each from the four parties belonging to the TNA - TULF, ACTC, TELO and
EPRLF - were invited to Kilinochchi and given a briefing by LTTE
Political Wing Chief Subbiah Paramu Tamilselvan.
MP Sivajilingam told the Daily News that the Tiger counter proposals
were comprehensive and reflected the aspirations of the Tamil people.
There was also no conflict between the LTTE and TNA positions on this.
EPRLF Factional Leader Suresh Premachandran told the same journal that
the LTTE Political Head had called for suggestions from the TNA. He
believed that their suggestions would be incorporated in the final
draft not finalised
meeting with the TNA indicates that the LTTE draft is still not
finalised. Additional input is likely to go into it even during these
last days of October. It is doubtful then as to whether the entire
document could be finalised before October 31. Furthermore, there are
two other matters capable of affecting the tentative deadline.
is that the Tiger constitutional committee could not delve into Canadian
or South African issues at the Glencree meeting in Ireland. Due to
logistical difficulties the Canadian expert on Quebec, Prof. Gil
Remillard could not make it to Ireland. The LTTE had invited the
ex-Quebec provincial justice and inter governmental affairs minister at
very short notice and then altered the dates again thereby making it
impossible for him to attend.
the LTTE's failure to get the high-profile Nelson Mandela to attend the
Glencree deliberations as a distinguished observer contributed somewhat
to a diminished attendance of experts on South Africa. Though the LTTE
had African National Congress activists and Sinn Fein MPs as observers,
there was little academic input on South Africa.
the LTTE now wants to conduct a third parley of its constitutional
committee in Durban too. What is not clear is whether these efforts have
been successful . If unsuccessful, then there would be no problem about
the tentative deadline. If not there will be a dilemma.
statement with India
second and more important problem is Prime Minister Ranil
Wickremesinghe's Indian visit and the joint statement issued. The
emphasis on the response being reasonable and comprehensive along with
the insistence on a plural democracy is certainly likely to give the
Tigers a jolt. The statement coming barely 10 days before the October 31
deadline will have its impact on the Tigers and lead to a rethink in the
Wanni on some aspects at least.
these circumstances, the tentative deadline of October 31 faces a
question mark. The Tigers are extremely annoyed by the Indo-Lanka joint
statement and some of their journals have already started reflecting
this. The LTTE, which already has prolonged the exercise as much as
possible, could delay it further to register its disapproval of the New
Delhi-Colombo axis. It could cite the meeting in the making at South
Africa and the necessity to get further input from international
academics as an excuse. Meanwhile it could ask Norway to provide details
of the Vajpayee-Wickremesinghe meeting and its fall out.
the LTTE does not want to postpone the October 31 deadline further for
fear of eroding its credibility more, the LTTE could in fact adhere to
the tentative date. In that case it may modify the draft proposals
further to avoid friction with international expectations. It may be
recalled that even before the Indo-Lanka joint statement the USA had
wanted the response to be 'realistic' and Canada 'reasonable.' On the
other hand, the LTTE could stick to its guns and adopt a maximalist
position on paper and perhaps scale down during negotiations.
way out for the Tigers would be to submit a condensed version of their
proposals as an interim or preliminary document on October 31 and then
follow it up with a final and comprehensive document on the eve of face
to face talks on the proposals. It is clear now that there would be a
short and limited meeting between the government and LTTE in November to
fix the date, time, agenda and modalities of the resumption of dialogue
in January next year. With the government itself not wanting to hold
talks in November and December, the Tigers - ever ready to protract
proceedings - will only be too happy to oblige. In that context it would
matter very little as to whether the LTTE submits its proposals in full
on October 31 or not.
the filibustering there is no doubt that a lot of work has gone into the
Tiger document. Sixteen federal constitutions along with nine agreements
both successful and unsuccessful have been clinically analysed.
Advisorial opinion from 18 Tamil and 14 non-Tamil experts have been
obtained. Working trips too have been undertaken by the LTTE political
committee to examine at first hand some of the power sharing devices in
practice in Europe. There has however been a very positive input from
the past too in these endeavours.
other power sharing models drafted by persons close to the LTTE or by
others commissioned by the Tigers were also utilised. One was the
document pertaining to an associative structure model drafted by Nadesan
Satyendra during the time when Sathasivampillai Krishnakumar alias Kittu
was the LTTE international secretary general and based in London. This
model conceptualises two 'associated' structures of governance within a
united Sri Lanka.
second was one drafted by the current LTTE International Legal Advisor,
Visvanathan Ruthirakumaran. The New York based attorney formulated this
model in association with the renowned Political Scientist Prof. A.
Jeyaratnam Wilson who was then based in Canada. Wilson, the son-in-law
of Federal Party Leader S.J.V. Chelvanayagam, is no more. This model
inspired to a great extent by Belgium envisages sharing power at the
widest level in both the centre and periphery. A working paper along
these lines was presented at a seminar in Sweden by Ruthirakumaran some
third was a constitutional draft compiled by a team of constitutional
lawyers in Britain. It was commissioned by a group of Tamil expatriates
in Britain, USA, Canada and Australia. The lawyers, all of them
non-Tamil, were mandated with the task of coming up with a solution of
separate administrations short of secession. A working paper condensing
this model was circulated for discussion at a seminar held in
the contribution of expatriate Tamils and international experts - past
and present - has been immense to the current exercise, it does not mean
that there has been no domestic input. For reasons of security their
role has gone unpublicised. These persons participated at discussions
held in the Wanni and Jaffna by two committees. Both committees were
appointed by LTTE Leader Velupillai Pirapaharan.
first was the constitutional committee headed by the LTTE's shadow
'justice minister,' Para. The other was a political committee headed by
the LTTE's shadow 'information and media minister,' Balakumaran.
Incidently both are ex-members of the Eelam Revolutionary Organisation.
Both these committees drafted two separate papers on power sharing.
those involved in these efforts were retired judicial officers,
academics, lawyers , professionals and senior ex-government servants.
Some of the participants were living within the Wanni and others
outside. Both reports were submitted to LTTE Chief Pirapaharan who
suggested some amendments. Thereafter Ruthira-kumaran from New York
visited the Wanni and presented a working outline of a possible power
sharing model to the LTTE supremo. All three documents were then
incorporated into one.
task was done by a six man committee under the direct supervision of
LTTE Chief Pirapaharan. The members consisted of a senior university
lecturer, a former varsity lecturer, a recently retired judicial
officer, an ex-trade unionist turned lawyer, Balakumaran and Para. This
document was then sent to Ruthirakumaran in New York. It is interesting
to note that after some preliminary involvement, the Tiger ideologue and
Political Strategist, Anton Stanislaus Balasingham was kept out of all
draft document from the Wanni was sent out to several Tamil and
non-Tamil experts by Rudra. Their comments were obtained and a fresh
model was drafted incorporating these suggestions. This document was up
for formal discussion when the LTTE constitutional committee met in
Paris in late August. After some deliberations the draft was amended
in turn was taken to the Wanni by Tamilselvan and given to Pirapaharan
who summoned his own expert committees and dissected it again. A further
amended draft was now taken to Ireland. Once again after much discussion
the draft document was fine tuned and completed. This along with other relevant input was taken to
the Wanni by Tamilselvan.
the draft, hopefully a penultimate document, is being finalised along
the directives of Pirapaharan. Now the TNA suggestions too will be
incorporated. It is learnt that the LTTE was impressed by the input
provided by senior Trincomalee District TULF parliamentarian, R.
Sambandan and junior Jaffna District Tamil Congress Parliamentarian,
has clearly informed Norway that the final document will be given on
October 31. Nevertheless, the excitement caused by the Indo-Lanka joint
statement, the Tiger yearning to go to South Africa and the announcement
by Prof. Peiris that direct talks will commence only in January could
all make a qualitative change in the Tiger timetable.
the LTTE's strategy and whatever the final document there is no doubt
that painstakingly serious effort has been put into this counter
proposal drafting exercise. It is of great historical importance being
the first ever LTTE proposal of its kind. It is of a constitutionalist
yet revolutionary nature and envisages the radical restructuring of Sri
Lanka to preserve its unity and territorial integrity.