Colombo |By Sinha Ratnatunga | 01-03-2002
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President Chandrika Kumaratunga sent her formal response on
the ceasefire agreement signed between the government and northern
rebels by slamming Norway's elevated status in the peace process
and a call for the country's sovereignty to be protected at
In a letter to Prime Minister
Ranil Wickremesinghe, President Kumaratunga reiterated her
complaint that she was not properly consulted before
Wickremesinghe committed the Colombo government to a truce
accord signed by Tamil Tigers (LTTE) leader Velupillai
Prabhakaran. She lamented that her advice would have helped
reach bi-partisan consensus.
She hit out at Norway's
efforts to upgrade itself from the role for which they were
first invited by her government as that of a facilitator "to a
mediator and arbitrator" referring to the fact that Oslo has
been given the "final authority" on the interpretation of the
Kumaratunga also criticised the
powers given to Norway through a monitoring mission Oslo would
appoint in demarcating "lines of control" within Sri Lanka
that would separate government-held areas and rebel-held
Drawing a parallel with the line-of-control
that has caused continuous disputes in Kashmir between India
and Pakistan, she said that it was the first time since the
island's independence in 1948 that a foreign nation was able
to decide on boundaries within Sri Lanka.
was reportedly drafted by her former foreign minister Lakshman
Kadirgamar after a party committee which included former media
minister Mangala Samaraweera, ex-UN envoy and senior lawyer
H.L. de Silva, and former ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Javed
Yusuf studied the clauses over five days since Wickremesinghe
handed over the agreement to the president.
Kumaratunga made several other observations in the
agreement, one of which was to tell the prime minister that he
should have fixed a date for the commencement of negotiations
with the LTTE, without leaving that open.
appeared to be at pains to show that she was not against the
peace process aimed at ending 20 years of fighting between the
Colombo government and the LTTE, but equally showed dissent at
the rush at signing the truce accord, and some of the
provisions it contains.
Her letter came hot on the
heels of a controversy when local media reported her saying at
a local body election rally that she could abrogate the truce
accord with "one stroke of the pen" by giving instructions to
the army commander.
Kumaratunga's office has denied she
said so, while admitting that she did express reservations
about the accord.
In her letter to Wickremesinghe,
Kumaratunga welcomes some aspects of the accord such as the
lifting of the economic embargo on LTTE-held areas, and the
granting of permission for 24-hour fishing in the northern
She, however, goes on to criticise the
government's surrender of the exercise of sovereignty in the
seas where it could not get the LTTE to agree on the navy's
right to intercept rebel boats.
Pointing to the
separate 'letter of intent' the government issued, insisting
on the navy's right to search rebel boats, Kumaratunga says
that such a statement has no force of law when it is outside