Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Sri Lankan Election Pledges Solution to Ethnic Issue

In view of the conclusion of all elections including presidential and parliamentary elections, it appears that the people are very anxious to now see the fulfillment of all the election pledges which were made to them from sundry political platforms. Development, salary increases and holding talks with Tamil parliamentarians to explore a political solution to the ethnic issue are the significant pledges under reference.

Possible Government-TNA Talks
In this context, responding to a media query as to whether the government was willing to hold talks with the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) on the ethnic issue, former Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe said the government was prepared to hold talks with the TNA on northern development plans and other issues but the TNA on its part would also need to be realistic in its aspirations.

Viewed against the fact of a majority of TNA MPs being elected from the North at the just concluded general election, the government can't avoid holding talks with the TNA regarding the development projects to be implemented by the government in the North and other issues. It is with their cooperation that the planned economic development projects will be implemented, Minister Samarasinghe said.

Resolution to Ethnic Issue
Meanwhile, Tissa Vitharana, All Party Representative Committee (APRC) chairman, recently said that an invitation would be extended to the TNA to join APRC sessions in future. He said he believes that reconciliation could be reached with their cooperation in the future.

The failure of the government to invite the TNA to participate in APRC sessions which discussed proposals to evolve a political resolution to the ethnic issue and their boycotting of the committee in the past had caused serious concern and provoked intense criticism within the Tamil community.

However, several politicians have opined that there now obtained a conducive atmosphere to convert the APRC process into a meaningful one. They contend that should the committee press ahead with its search for a solution and builds up confidence among the Tamil people, then the search for a lasting solution to the ethnic problem could be a tangible and realistic one and not a mere pipe dream.

Problems take critical turns when they are dragged out without a resolution over a long period of time. It was within the capabilities of successive governments to resolve this long standing issue amicably and it was their failures which paved the way for the people to suffer the colossal miseries they had to suffer. Realizing this fact, all factions concerned should make full use of this opportunity to reach agreement on an equitable solution to the ethnic issue.

The time is opportune for the government to build confidence in the Tamil psyche that the Tamil community could realistically expect a prosperous future in the country. As a result of the war that continued for decades the Tamil community in the country was plunged into untold misery, losing all that they possessed. If they are to have the chance to live happily and at peace, their basic problems should be resolved as early as possible.

Suffering of Internally Displaced Persons
The people who were languishing as internally displaced persons for over two decades as a result of high security zones being established in their places of residence, are even today trapped in the vice-like grip of the continuing anxiety over whether the atmosphere up north will return to adequate normalcy to enable them to return to their native places in the not too distant future.

Lands which were used to cultivate agricultural crops in the past have deteriorated into neglected, barren lands due to these high security zones. By returning these lands to their owners they could be encouraged to engage in cultivation which in turn will help boost the economy of the country.

Cooperative Effort to Develop Region
While the government takes every step to develop the North which has been deprived of development for the past three decades, it is imperative that the newly elected parliamentarians from the north now focus their efforts on helping execute the government's plans to launch the development thrust in the north.

The war was advanced as the cause for northern development to be held back by successive governments and obstacles were placed to thwart all progress for the people. Now that the war has ended a climate conducive to rapid development of the Northern Province has offered itself for exploitation.
In these circumstances, every one should join hands in a cooperative effort to develop the region. The government should also ensure that it now honors all the pledges given to the people without dragging its feet on the issue. It is through taking such decisive action that the government can hope to win the hearts of the people permanently.

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