Terms & Conditions by Tamil Guardian editorial

If the consequences for Sri Lanka’s peoples didn’t threaten to be so tragic, the dynamics of the constitutional crisis gripping Colombo would be farcical. President Chandrika Kumaratunga’s dramatic announcement Tuesday that she intends to remain in office till 2006 – a full year longer than expected – would have come as a body blow to Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe’s strategy to stave off his arch-rival’s accelerating rise to political supremacy. To begin with, the revelations of a secret swearing in ceremony should not have come as a total surprise to observers of Sri Lankan politics. After all, the Sunday Times broke the story several weeks ago. The ruling United National Front (UNF) government’s silence spoke volumes then. But press reports are one thing, official declarations another. As such, Mrs. Kumaratunga’s smug assertions this week underlined both the UNF’s impotence in the face of her constitutional manoeuvres – if such a term is applicable to the President’s hamfisted lunge for power – and the erosion of its political authority.

Above all, the entire matter epitomizes the sham that democracy is in Sri Lanka. The country’s all powerful President holds a private swearing in ceremony that effectively extends her term well beyond the date the public expects her to quit – a not insignificant development given that she is constitutionally precluded from another term in office. Furthermore, this crucial event is attended only by the chief justice – one of the President’s personal appointees – and her loyal confidante and former Foreign Minister, Mr. Lakshman Kadirgamar. Incredulously, the matter remains so secret – even the date of this self crowning ceremony are seemingly unknown – that no one in the country is aware (least of all, the UNF government which supposedly took charge in December 2001). One wonders what the often vocal proponents of good governance theories would make of Sri Lanka now. And so much for the ‘vibrant democracy’ that the Tamils are piously exhorted to participate in.

Most importantly for the outcome paralyzing standoff in Colombo, Mrs. Kumaratunga’s unilateral extension of her rule has removed a key plank of Mr. Wickremesinghe’s calculations, namely that she was fast running out of time to engineer a constitutional arrangement that would permit her to remain in power beyond her second term as President. The strain is showing. Having fluttered for so long between unconvincing defiance and platitudes for compromise, the Premier was this week – for the umpteenth time

ait Accompli!? by M. Nadarajah

By M.Nadarajah

The several Governments that have been in power in Ceylon, renamed Sri Lanka, of whichever colour or hue, and whether capitalist-oriented or socialist-oriented, have had one common objective and that has been to make it a Sinhala Buddhist country, irrespective of the fact that nearly 26% of the island is non-Sinhalese and nearly 35% non-Buddhist. They imposed what has to be called a Sinhalese Constitution with a Sinhalese flag, a Sinhalese national anthem, and with Buddhism given pride of place, ignoring the wishes and feelings of religious, cultural and ethnic minorities. This constitution was coupled with discrimination in every sphere of life. Development, education, and employment opportunities were denied or restricted in minority homelands. This affected Tamils more than the more pliant Muslim minority, which was prepared to accept the crumbs that fell from the master

Aiding the Devil by Saravanan Suresh Kumar, Bangalore

By providing military aid to Sri Lanka, India is weakening further the current troubled peace process. We still seem to have not realized that the Sri Lankan problem is not one that can be solved militarily.

We are creating new problems and not solving the existing one. The proposed hurriedly put together defense agreement stops short of getting the Indian army involved actively. Under this agreement the India would train the Sri Lankan army, provide air transport to the Sri Lankan army, help in strengthening their strategic airbase at Palay and provide for more help to their navy in their operations for security in the Indian ocean (supposedly to counter the LTTE