The Lanka Academic

VOL. 5, NO. 227

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Sri Lanka 's peace process, some worry, could be slipping toward a no-win situation
Associated Press, Thu November 18, 2004 02:25 EST . DILIP GANGULY - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) More than two years ago, a cease-fire with Tamil Tiger rebels brought a semblance of peace to this tropical island nation savaged by nearly two decades of civil war. Last week, Norwegian peace envoys made their 16th visit to Sri Lanka - since they brokered the February, 2002 cease-fire between the government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamileelam that halted 19 years of civil war.

But the Norwegians, who were hoping to convince the rebels to return to the negotiating table, which they left in April 2003, went home without a breakthrough.

Stubbornness on both sides means there has been little chance of significant change.

``The peace process remains at a deadlock due to unwillingness of the government and the LTT to budge from their respective positions and make a deadlock-breaking concession,'' said Jehan Perera of the National Peace Council, an independent think tank.

The Tigers began fighting in 1983 to create a separate state for Sri Lanka - 's 3.2 million Tamils, accusing the country's 14 million Sinhalese of discrimination. The war left 65,000 people dead and 1.6 million displaced before the cease-fire took hold.

According to Perera, international efforts are about the only reason the peace process remains intact at all. The United States, India and Japan have all made it clear they want a negotiated settlement, and have pushed hard to keep the war from starting anew. But many here worry that diplomatic fatigue may worsen in if the stalemate continues.

Why are the two sides so stubborn?

The core issue is a rebel blueprint for self-rule called the Interim Self-Governing Authority, or ISGA. The October, 2003 proposal called for a largely independent territory with control over its own administration, police and legal system, unrestricted access to the sea, and the right to collect taxes and receive direct foreign aid.

President Chandrika Kumaratunga, who initially rejected the proposal, calling it a step toward a separate state, has been saying lately that her administration was willing to discuss it, along with government proposals on power sharing.

But the rebels who already control their own de facto state across much of northern and eastern Sri Lanka - don't trust Kumaratunga, who they tried to kill in a 1999 assassination attempt that cost her an eye and killed 27 others. They insist that before talks begin, the government issue a pre-talk statement that the ISGA would form the basis for any discussions.

Political bickering among Kumaratunga's supporters makes that impossible. She is under pressure from extremists among the Sinhalese majority not to give any concessions.

Her government's survival depends on the support of the Marxist People's Liberation Front, a powerful member of her coalition which opposes ceding any power to the rebels.

``All Sinhalese parties are today united only in their aim of indefinitely prolonging this no-war, no-settlement situation for the sole purpose of eroding our collective will,'' Senathirajah Jeyanandamoorthy, a Tamil member of Parliament, was quoted as saying in the pro-rebel Web site, TamilNet.

Such cynicism can be found on both sides of Sri Lanka - 's ethnic divide, with hardline Sinhalese insisting the Tigers cannot be trusted until they are militarily crippled.

``An LTT believing in its military capability can never be expected to agree to a peaceful and negotiated settlement,'' said Piyasena Dissanayake, a Sinhalese academic.

Both sides, analysts say, must be prepared to make concessions.

Even without a return to all-out war, a lack of progress threatens to trap this beautiful island in what Perera calls ``no-war, no-peace and no-progress.''
Published: Thu Nov 18 06:16:15 EST 2004

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Sri Lankan government unveils maiden budget, XINHUA
Associated Press, Thu November 18, 2004 13:52 EST . - - COLOMBO, Nov. 18 (Xinhua) -- Sri Lanka - 's ruling coalition on Thursday unveiled its first budget since it was elected to power in April and the occasion was marked by a cross over from the main opposition to the government. The budget aims at achieving a 6 percent to 7 percent economic growth for the next three years. Seven basic factors are included in the budget to achieve this target.

These include the increasing of per capita income by 5 percent, a 15 percent hike in pension payments and a granting of a 40 percent pay hike to the public sector employees subject to a minimum of 3,250 rupees (about 31 US dollars) and a maximum of 9, 000 rupees (about 86.5 US dollars).

Finance Minister Sarath Amunugama outlined the government economic policy in the Parliament. He proposed measures to widen the national tax base, claiming that out of a 6.8 million workforce only 200,000 were paying taxes. As part of its emphasis on indigenous resource based economy, the budget offers concessions to agricultural and local manufacturing sectors.

Amunugama said that economic liberalization, deregulation and privatization policies pursued since 1977 have left over 70 percent of the country's population with no economic benefits while the urban wealthy doubled their income. Amunugama announced during the course of his budget speech that Rohitha Bogollagama, a lawmaker from the opposition United National Party (UNP), has joined the government of President Chandrika Kumaratunga. He has also entered the Kumaratunga cabinet as the Minister of Advanced Technology and National Enterprise Development, Amunugama said.

Copyright 2004 XINHUA all rights reserved as distributed by WorldSources, Inc.
Published: Thu Nov 18 16:26:37 EST 2004 Back to the top

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Army intelligence officer, civilian gunned down in eastern Sri Lanka
Associated Press, Thu November 18, 2004 08:42 EST . - - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Suspected Tamil Tiger rebels fatally shot an army intelligence officer and a Tamil civilian in Sri Lanka - 's volatile east on Thursday, police and military officials said, a day after unidentified gunmen reportedly killed a rebel in the area. TamilNet blamed ``suspected paramilitary operatives working with the Sri Lanka - military intelligence'' for the slaying, but the military denied any involvement.

On Thursday morning, Cpl. Ajith Dassanayake and Vasanthanayagam Prabhakaran, a Tamil civilian, were shot by two motorbike-riding gunmen as they talked on a street in Polonnaruwa in eastern Sri Lanka - , said Brig. Daya Ratnayake, a military spokesman.

The killers were ``suspected to be from the LTT (Liberation Tigers of Tamileelam),'' Ratnayake said.

Later, two men on a motorbike were arrested in the same area, and one possessed an identity card issued by the Tamil Tigers, Ratnayake said.

Dassanayake was the eighth intelligence operative killed by Tiger rebel hit men since the government and guerrillas signed a cease-fire 32 months ago, he said.

The Tamil Tigers are accused by the government of slaying scores of people including military intelligence operatives, rebels and civilians in Sri Lanka - 's north and east since a major split in the rebel ranks in March.

The violence has sometimes spilled into the capital, Colombo, and has threatened to derail the truce.

The Tamil Tigers began a violent campaign in 1983 to create a separate state for ethnic minority Tamils, accusing the majority Sinhalese of discrimination. The violence killed 65,000 people before the cease-fire was signed.
Published: Thu Nov 18 13:57:29 EST 2004 Back to the top

Sri Lanka 's rebels, truce monitors discuss security issues, XINHUA
Associated Press, Thu November 18, 2004 13:10 EST . COLOMBO, Nov. 18 (Xinhua) -- Tamil Tigers and Sri Lanka - 's international truce monitors met in the rebel-held northern town of Kilinochchi Wednesday with a view to address growing security concerns, a report reaching here said Thursday. Trond Furuhovde, chief of a European cease-fire monitoring group, held talks with the political wing leader S... Back to the top

Tamil Tiger rebels accuse Sri Lankan president of insincerity
Associated Press, Thu November 18, 2004 08:38 EST . - - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Tamil Tiger rebels on Thursday accused Sri Lanka - 's president of misleading international peace backers and blamed her for a 19-month stalemate in efforts to permanently end two decades of civil war... Back to the top

Lugar Applauds Passage Of Dutch Tax Treaty
Associated Press, Thu November 18, 2004 15:41 EST . - - we finalized treaties with Japan and Sri Lanka - ... Back to the top

Sri Lanka to Raise Taxes to Fund Deficit, Civil Servants Pay, November 18, 2004, 16:30 EDT. Nov. 18 (Bloomberg) -- Sri Lanka will raise taxes on goods and services to help cut the budget deficit and fund pay increases for government workers, easing investor concern that individual and corporate taxes may rise as part of the 2005 budget. The government will increase duties on luxury goods and impose new taxes on stock transactions as part of measures to cut the deficit to 7.5 percent of gross domestic product next year from an estimate of as much as 8.5 percent this year, Finance Minister Sarath Amunugama said today in his budget speech in Colombo... Back to the top

Kumaratunga is cheating international community: LTTE:, Nov 18 . [World News]: Colombo, Nov 18 : Sri Lanka's rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) on Thursday accused President Chandrika Kumartunga of cheating the international community through her "deceitful acts"... Back to the top

Sri Lanka : Job loss fears rise as MFA expires in Jan 2005, 18th November 2004 . Signs are not positive about the domestic textile industries, while the world is bracing for a revolution within the industry as a major change looms at the end of the year... Back to the top

Sri Lanka Raises 2004 Deficit Forecast on Oil Prices (Update2), November 18, 2004, 06:30 EDT. Nov. 18 (Bloomberg) -- Sri Lanka raised its borrowing forecast for 2004 as higher fuel prices curb the economy's recovery from a two-decade civil war. The budget deficit may reach 8.5 percent of gross domestic product this year, up from an estimate of 8 percent, Finance Minister Sarath Amunugama said during his budget speech in Colombo, the south Asian island's capital... Back to the top

Report: Tamil Tiger rebel killed in eastern Sri Lanka
Associated Press, Thu November 18, 2004 01:52 EST . - - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Unidentified gunmen shot to death a Tamil Tiger rebel in eastern Sri Lanka - , police said Thursday... Back to the top

Sri Lankan soldier killed by suspected Tamil rebels, XINHUA
Associated Press, Thu November 18, 2004 12:06 EST . - - COLOMBO, Nov. 18 (Xinhua) -- An army soldier and a Tamil civilian were killed Thursday afternoon by suspected Tamil Tiger rebels in Sri Lanka - 's north eastern town of Kaduruwela, about 170 kilometers from here, said a press release of the country's army headquarters. Lance Corporal Ajith Dassanayake of the 1st Sri Lanka - Army Ordnance Corps, attached to the Military Intelligence died on the spot due to pistol-shot injuries received to his head and chest, the press release quoted police sources as saying... Back to the top

Rebel member killed in eastern Sri Lanka , XINHUA
Associated Press, Thu November 18, 2004 11:48 EST . - - Rebel member killed in eastern Sri Lanka - , XINHUA ASIA WorldSources, Inc... Back to the top

Sri Lanka targets 6-7% mid-term growth: Budget, November 18, 2004, 06:30 EDT. Advertisement Sri Lanka's government is targeting six-seven per cent growth in the medium term, according to the text of Finance Minister Sarath Amunugama's 2005 budget speech obtained by Reuters on Thursday... Back to the top

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