Chandrika talks unity for peace
The Sri Lankan President, Chandrika Kumaratunga, has suggested a two to three year agreement between her government and the opposition United National Party (UNP), to help solve the ethnic problem in the country.
Making the suggestion at a meeting of Organisation of Professional Associations (OPA) in Colombo on Monday, the president asked the OPA to form committees to study ways and means of bringing the United Peoples' Freedom Alliance (UPFA) government and the opposition UNP together to solve the national question.
She said that she was not asking for long term cooperation but only for a limited period of two or three years.
The president's suggestion came in the context of the UNP's consistent refusal to participate in the national consultative committee on the peace process, which she had set up in the hope of securing a consensus among the political parties and civil society in Sinhala-dominated southern Sri Lanka on how to tackle the separatist militant movement in the Tamil-speaking North East Province.
Kumaratunga said she knew that many in the UNP wanted to cooperate with her government to solve the national question, but they were being prevented from giving a helping hand.
She said that it was more difficult to bring about a political consensus in South Sri Lanka than to get the LTTE to the negotiating table.
Going into her own history, Kumaratunga said that when she was in the opposition, she had supported the government when the latter was acting in national interest. She recalled that she and her husband, the late Vijaya Kumaratunga, had supported the UNP government on the issue of signing the India-Sri Lanka Accord in July 1987, even though most Sri Lankan political parties opposed it vehemently.
She said even the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, which she now heads, had opposed the Accord tooth and nail.