Sri Lanka: a graveyard of pacts
The abrogation of an MoU was latest in a series of torn up pacts in Lanka since mid 1950s, reports PK Balachandran.india Updated: Jan 30, 2007 15:06 IST
The abrogation of the MoU between the ruling Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and the opposition United National Party (UNP) on Sunday, was only the latest in a series of disregarded, scuttled or torn up pacts in Sri Lanka since the mid 1950s.
As most of the pacts have been on the Tamil question - the main problem plaguing Sri Lanka since independence - their abrogation has had a very debilitating effect on the country.
According to the World Bank's Vice President for South Asia, Praful Patel, the war has cost Sri Lanka 2 or 3 percentage points on GDP growth annually over the last two decades - growth that could have eliminated poverty.
The BC-pact signed by Prime Minister SWRD. Bandaranaike and the Tamil leader SJV Chelvanayakam in July 1957 to solve the ethnic conflict, was abrogated within a year following street protests from the UNP.
Bandaranaike tore it up in public in April 1958.
If it was implemented, the Tamil minority would have got regional autonomy and the right to use the Tamil language.
State-sponsored colonisation of the Tamil-speaking North-East by the majority Sinhala community would have stopped.
The worsening communal situation led to the Dudley Senanayake -Chelvanayakam pact in March 1965.
The DC-pact reiterated the assurance on the use of the Tamil language; enunciated norms for communal colonisation and promised District-level Councils. But opposition from the SLFP scuttled its implementation.
Four years of armed Tamil militancy and army action culminated in the India-Sri Lanka Accord in July 1987.
But it became a dead letter within months, when the LTTE took on the Indian military, and the Sri Lankan and Indian governments failed to keep their part of the bargain.
In 2006, the Sri Lankan Supreme Court annulled one of the few implemented provisions of the accord, when it struck down the merger of the Northern and Eastern provinces to form a single Tamil province.
In April 1997, persuaded by British Minister Liam Fox, President Chandrika Kumaratunga and opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe signed a pact to a have a bipartisan approach to the ethnic question. But destructive partisanship continued.
The Ceasefire Agreement of February 2002 signed by Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and LTTE leader Prabhakaran was scuttled by President Chandrika Kumaratunga, her successor Mahinda Rajapaksa and Prabhakaran.
In 2005, the Kumaratunga government and the LTTE signed a pact to set up a Joint Mechanism to manage tsunami relief funds in the Tamil-speaking North East.
But the Sinhala nationalists took it to the Supreme Court which struck it down!