Harim Peiris

Political and Reconciliation perspectives from Sri Lanka

  • January 2012
    M T W T F S S

LLRC: An Inconvenient Truth?

Posted by harimpeiris on January 5, 2012

The LLRC report was finally made public by tabling it in Parliament in late December and the report presents the government and the Southern polity with some inconvenient truths. It mostly challenges the narrative made popular by government leaders and ideologues and ably supported by the mainstream media, that the main impediment to a solution is the TNA.

Accordingly the government spends most of its limited attention span on the ethnic issue by complaining about the TNA’s alleged intransigence, denying the existence of an ethnic problem and blaming the West for not recognizing the claimed post war economic progress in the North.
However, this Rajapaksa / UPFA narrative is not supported by the facts as largely attested by the LLRC.

Firstly it is incumbent on the government to take the leadership on a political solution, simply because it holds state power. To date the government has never put forward its proposals or indicated its own response to the LLRC report. It does however keep repeating what it’s opposed to, namely police and land powers for the PC’s but never what it proposes. The LLRC clearly states “It is vital that the Government should provide leadership to a political process which must be pursued for the purpose of establishing a framework for ensuring sustainable peace and security in the post conflict environment.

In this endeavor the rights of all communities, including those who have been members of the LTTE, must be ensured. To this end a political settlement based on devolution must address the ethnic problem as well as other serious problems that threaten the democratic institutions. This political process should culminate in a constitutional foundation and mechanisms that provide opportunities for development and implementation of necessary socio-economic policies” (LLRC Final Report 8.215).

Secondly the government fails to implement even its own manifesto Mahinda Chinthanya-Idiri Dekma of 2010 which clearly states that the Northern Provincial Council elections will be held at the soonest. Further the 13th Amendment to the Constitution is the basic law of the land and there is no basis for not implementing the same in the Northern Province. That is not what the TNA demands. That is what staunchly anti LTTE Douglas Devananda and Anandasangari have been asking. The government cannot even fulfil its own policy proposals (Chinthanya) or that of its allies, (EPDP) much less anyone else. Here is what the LLRC says about the 13th amendment “Historically, there has been a strong tradition of devolutionary and de-centralized governance, not necessarily based on ethnicity as such, but conceived and practiced in a manner that ensured both efficiency and broad basing of governance as well as national security. The principal constitutional framework within which devolution of powers is presently facilitated is the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. Numerous attempts have been made in the past to reach a wider political consensus on the issue of more devolution but that consensus has remained elusive” (LLRC Final Report 8.214).

Several other serious omissions by the government, include its failure to implement the “interim recommendations of the LLRC” and disregarding the excellent work of the APRC and the majority report of the APRC’s Expert Committee. Further the nineteen person-Presidential Task Force implementing the government’s “Northern Spring” program has not a single Tamil member and does no consultation with the local communities involved or with their elected representatives, (mostly TNA). Here is what the LLRC says in that regard “The Government should ensure that development activities should be carried out in consultation and with the participation of the local people. Such a transparent approach in administration would make the people feel an ownership to the development activities, as well as give them a sense of participation in nation building (LLRC Final Report 8.207).

Moreover two years after the end of the war and despite the absence of a single terrorist incident, the military continues to dominate the day to day civil life of the Northern population. Given that a basically mono ethnically Sinhala army is controlling a largely mono ethnically Tamil civil population and that too, dominated by women headed households, there is no justification whatsoever for such a policy. Here is what the LLRC says in that regard “It is important that the Northern Province reverts to civilian administration in matters relating to the day-to-day life of the people, and in particular with regard to matters pertaining to economic activities such as agriculture, fisheries land etc. The military presence must progressively recede to the background to enable the people to return to normal civilian life and enjoy the benefits of peace” (LLRC Final Report 8.211).

On the whole, the LLRC final report presents the government with inconvenient truths that lay bare the factual inaccuracies and inadequacies of its own post war policy trajectory and narrative. This coming from not from the UN’s Darrusman report but from our own CR (Bulla) De Silva report, comprising by no means government opponents, but clearly government insiders. When President Mahinda’s own senior and respected people, tell him in no uncertain, (but very polite) terms to change tracks, he should take note.

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