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Sunday, 13 March 2005    
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'LTTE should take a positive stand' - Anandasangaree

Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) leader and former parliamentarian V. Anandasangaree believe the time has come for the Tamil National Alliance and the LTTE to extend their support to President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga and that the LTTE should take a positive stand before the people revolt against them. Here, he talks to Sunday Observer staffer M. P. Muttiah

V. Anandasangaree

Question: President Chandrika Kumaratunga has said that a decisive moment had come to solve the ethnic problem and bring peace through devolution of power, and she would go for it, no matter who stood against it. What is your view?

Answer: She has promoted a federal solution to the ethnic crisis before mentioned this several years ago. My position is that the country's problem could be solved only through a federal system. I had suggested that this should be based on the Indian system of governance. India is our closest neighbour. Any devolution should not be more than what's in the Indian states, especially Tamil Nadu. There could be some amendments. It was the father of President Kumaratunga who first declared that the problems of Tamil people should be solved under a federal set up.

Q: How do you see the position of other parties?

A: The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) should make use of this opportunity to ask the LTTE to accept the position of the president. The LTTE is also for federalism. The TNA stands for federalism. The TULF members who are in the TNA must press the LTTE for a federal solution. This could be the best solution to the ethnic crisis.

The UNP should not say one word against it. Now the only party that might oppose would be the JVP and I am sure we could persuade and convince them. They oppose the Interim Self Governing Authority (ISGA) but not the final solution. I am certain the UNP, led by former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, would not oppose such a move to find a permanent solution. The people of this country need peace, not war, and I am sure the federal solution would receive 100 per cent support.

The European Commissioner for External Relations and Neighbourhood Police, Benith Ferero Waldner was here. She represents the members of the European Union. It was the obligation of the LTTE to meet her and discuss their problems. She arrived here especially to provide aid. Instead, the LTTE complained about the lack of aid and sent Tamilselvan on a world tour. Will Tamilselvan's foreign tour help solve the problems? They had missed a good opportunity.

Q: Why do you oppose the ISGA?

A: It is against the Constitution. To establish the ISGA, many provisions have to be amended. There should be a referendum and a two-third majority should be mustered. After all this is a long and tiresome process. Leading lawyer R. Sambandan is fully aware of this. He should have enlightened the LTTE on this, saying that it was an impossible task for any government, as there were many obstacles. The ISGA proposals were drafted by none other than the former Attorney General Siva Pasupathy, and he should have pointed out the difficulties.

Q: But, the Sri Lanka-India Accord provides for an interim arrangement?

A: It refers to the Interim Administration, not to Authority. It was the TULF that took up this idea with the late Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, and J. R. Jayewardene government had to agree. According to that interim administration proposal, the LTTE would have had a majority with representations from TULF, Muslim and Sinhala communities, and the government.

But at the last minute the LTTE refused to accept it.

Q: Is it not necessary to have a joint mechanism to carry out relief and rehabilitation measures in the North and East?

A: Already there is a mechanism with the Government Agent, Additional Government Agent, Divisional Secretaries and hundreds of Grama Sevaka Niladaris. If they are geared fully, all the data about the affected could be collected within a fortnight. Apart from this, the GA, AGA and DSs, and GSs cannot move an inch without the permission of the LTTE. This mechanism is fully under the control of the LTTE.

Q: How could you enlist support for the federal solution in the South?

A: You know the draft Constitution prepared by President Kumaratunga with the assistance of Dr. Neelan Thiruchelvam was perfect.

However, to enlist the support of others, it was diluted and became just a skeleton. We supported the draft submitted by Thiruchelvam.

I had meetings with the Mahanayake Theras in Kandy.

They fully support the solution. What else do you want? You can't always fool the people. They will revolt one-day-or the other. Before such revolt, the LTTE should come to terms to find a federal solution.

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