|Thursday, 24 January 2002|
The Oldest English Newspaper in
Collaborating for peace
In his Policy Statement to Parliament on Tuesday Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe referred to the need for political parties to co-operate in the effort to bring about a sustainable political settlement of the ethnic conflict. The whole of Sri Lanka knows what the Premier is talking about.
The issue is the need for as many political parties as possible to collaborate in the effort to resolve the ethnic conflict. Most important is for the two major national political parties, the UNP and the SLFP-led PA, to collaborate in this effort.
The experience of several decades of repeated actions by both the UNP and the SLFP to sabotage of each other's initiatives to solve the ethnic problem finally led to the realisation by the people at large that the mere practise of political competition for power cannot be the panacea for political ills in our post-colonial state.
It took a combination of international pressure, the general collapse of the economy, the devastation of society as well as the death toll in the party leaderships due to the ethnic war before the main parties began to see a self-interest in a collaborative effort.
The threat of a shattering of the very framework of parliamentary democracy, in which these political formations flourish, has spurred these parties to begin to re-think the style of their political practice. The demand by the electorate too is for a change of party behaviour.
Finally, the action by the electorate to place both the PA as well as the UNP side by side in power - as executive President and Government - means that now the main parties have a golden opportunity to share in the credit for a successful peace effort or, jointly take the blame for failure.
Will enlightened self-interest prevail or, will those restive elements that always haunt the corridors of power drag us back into rivalry and betrayal?
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