25 June, 2019

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Constructive Engagement By NPC Will Benefit People More

By Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

The resolution passed by the Northern Provincial Council accusing successive Sri Lankan governments of committing acts of genocide against the Tamil people came a few weeks before the UN Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva in March this year. It also asked the UN to set up an investigation into Genocide in various forms alleged to have been perpetrated on the Tamil people from the time of Independence. The resolution also called upon the UN to release the report of its investigation panel into alleged war crimes committed in the final phase of the country’s internal war, and to also set up an international process to ensure accountability for those crimes. However, the UN did not release the report of its investigation panel. It heeded the Sri Lankan government’s appeal that the release of the report should be postponed to give the new government time to make its own domestic accountability procedure more concrete.   The UN report is now expected to be released later this year in September when the UN Human Rights Council gathers once again in Geneva.

The visit to Sri Lanka of the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Truth, Accountability, Reparations and Guarantees of Non- Recurrence, Pablo de Greiff, gave the Northern Provincial Council another opportunity to present its case on genocide before the UN. It is reported that the Genocide Resolution was given to the UN Special Rapporteur. However, once again, it does not appear that the Genocide Resolution has had the desired impact. The Tamil media reported that “the UN Special Rapporteur was advocating for an internal mechanism during his visit. He was urging more time and space to be given to the new regime in Colombo. However, the Tamil representatives have explained in detail on the failure of all successive regimes in Colombo in delivering internal mechanisms capable of addressing the crimes committed by the SL State itself and its armed forces in the past.”

Maithripala WigneswaranThe doubts about the viability and success of a domestic mechanism to ascertain the truth and to ensure accountability for war crimes would be shared by many of the human rights and civil society representatives who had the opportunity to meet with the UN Special Rapporteur. Those who play a watchdog role in civil society are dedicated to ensuring the highest standards on matters of human rights and governance. They represent ideals and causes, and are well positioned to push and agitate for them. However, those in government are inclined to take a more pragmatic approach about what is possible and what is not. It was likely to have been the sense of pragmatism amongst international governments that constitute the decision makers in the UN Human Rights that led to the postponement of the release of the report of the UN investigation panel.

Winning Approach

The new government is taking a different approach from that of the previous government in agreeing to cooperate with the international community and with the UN system to deal with outstanding human rights issues. On the one hand it has adopted the core position of the former government in stating that the investigation into the past and the processes of accountability will need to be done domestically. On the other hand, its Foreign Minister is making pledges to the international community that it “will remedy the root causes of injustice, discrimination and prejudice that have spawned hate and violence for many decades. This government will break from this past and is deeply committed to make our vision of a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-lingual Sri Lanka based on the principles of equality, justice and meritocracy a reality for all Sri Lankans.” These commitments are being backed by actions and are getting the new government a great deal of international support.

One of the foreign government representatives to visit Sri Lanka, Tom Malinowski, Assistant Secretary for the office of democracy, human rights and Labour went out of his way to show support for the course of action being followed by the new government. He wrote an article to the Sri Lankan press stating that “The United States welcomes actions taken by the Sri Lankan government to rebuild trust with the Sri Lankan people; and we stand ready to support efforts in establishing a just and lasting peace. All around the world, there are countries that are going through, in their own ways, what Sri Lankans went through here. Read the headlines from Yemen to Iraq to Afghanistan to Burma, and you will see why the international community wants Sri Lanka to succeed. Not just for the country’s sake, but for all our sakes: The world needs Sri Lanka to keep showing that a society divided by ethnicity and faith can find peace through democracy and dialogue.”

The peaceful transition from an increasingly authoritarian government that appeared to be entrenched in power to a multi-party government in which there is cohabitation between a president and prime minister who come from rival parties has few if any precedents. The new government’s willingness to engage in dialogue with the international community is coupled with Sri Lanka’s strategic location in the Indian Ocean and its large and active Diaspora in many countries. These would be two of the issues that cater to the self-interest of the international community to work in constructive partnership with the Sri Lankan government. In this context the efforts of the Northern Provincial Council to act like an opposition party to the new government is unlikely to obtain international support to it.

Unconstructive Frustration

The sense of frustration that is driving the Northern Provincial Council to repeatedly try to promote its Genocide Resolution is understandable. But it is unlikely to impress the international community as being a constructive tool of problem solving, especially as it is a partisan document. The Genocide Resolution is not one that is self critical and it makes no mention of internal killings and of the ethnic cleansing of other communities. It is a document that is better suited to partisan actors such as the various Tamil Diaspora groups who are not responsible for securing the day to day well being of the masses living in the North and East of Sri Lanka, and wish to antagonize the Sri Lankan government. But it is not a document for the Northern Provincial Council to champion. They need to be championing issues of practical power sharing and the ground level concerns of the people, who wish to have livelihoods, find out what happened to their missing ones and want demilitarization.

After coming to power, and in a relatively short period, the new government has implemented several positive changes, including replacing the former military governors of the Northern and Eastern provinces with civilians with a liberal disposition, released some portion of land occupied by the military back to the people from whom it was taken, and where both the President and Prime Minister have spent several days in the North meeting with the people and getting to know their sufferings and aspirations first hand. They have done this although a general election is likely to be held in a few months, in which the opposition will utilize all the forces of Sinhalese ethnic majority nationalism to defeat the government. At a time when the new government is taking a path that is different from the previous one, it is not constructive of the Northern Provincial Council to be taking a confrontational posture.

The Northern Provincial Council is part of a countrywide system of devolved government that can contribute to the improvement of the people’s lives. When it was first established in 2013, there was positive anticipation from politicians in the other provinces that it would take the lead in fighting for more devolution of power and thereby help to empower the other provinces which were all under the control of the then ruling party. Unfortunately, the previous government denied it both political power and economic resources. As a result it could not help the victims of the war and the poor people of the province. But now there is a new government with a new approach for which the Tamil and Muslim people voted in overwhelming numbers. There were some hardliners in the Tamil Diaspora and Sri Lanka itself who urged a voter boycott, but this was not the position taken by the Tamil people. It is in the interests of the entire provincial council system, and the people of the North, and indeed in all parts of the country that could benefit from its wise leadership, that the Northern Provincial Council should work in cooperation with the central government and not in opposition to it.

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Latest comments

  • 8
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    As a much needed exercise in keeping the general public in Sri Lanka and the those who voted for it in overwhelming numbers in the north, the NPC should publish a brief and precise document on what it’s program of action was and is since its election, what objectives have been achieved, what had not been achieved and the reasons why the latter were not achieved.

    Since the present president has also received the overwhelming vote of the northern province, both the NPC and the government at the centre should be able to find a way to do what needs to be done.

    However, the NPC must plan and function within the mandate permitted within the 13th amendment as it stands today. Demanding improvements, even drastic, should not blur the need to deliver whatever is possible within existing limits. The NPC does not have the mandate to express opinions and agitate on national issues. This should be the concern of the TNA leadership at the national level. It appears at times the NPC is trying to steal the limelight from the TNA at the national level, instead of trying to execute its provincial mandate.

    The recent controversy with the new Governor over transfers, is also ugly and is not a sign of a new beginning, although the details are yet to emerge. Brinkmanship from either party would nor serve the mundane needs of the people.

    The central government too should also do what it can to make the NPC work even within the present constitutional constraints. I call upon the PM and the CM to transcend the current Cold War, the reasons for which appear to be trivial on the surface, and demonstrate the PC system can deliver in the north. The NPC and the CM should not engage in grandstanding, rhetoric and mere sloganeering, while not losing sight of what the people expect.

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

    • 2
      0

      NPC is not dying to gain publicity as much as you are dying for to gain.

      First thing, freedom fight is not governed by 13A. For a man to ask for his freedom, there is no National-Provincial difference. CV stood on a election that’s manifesto said the TNA’s provincial government will seek internal self-determination. (I do not know the meaning for that sentence, anyway) New King can not get even a vote in the north if the TNA is not approving. TNA is holding together not by any national MPs, including Mavai, sumanthiran….. Only by CV. Don’t write a dupes. Even TNA published a false election statement saying that the common candidate will withdraw the army, implement 13A, release the lands. It is now clear, the New Royals are not ready to give the deeds out that are signed by the Old Royals. Who are these people to sign Tamils land to get them back?

      Mad dog Ranil treated the northern people as slaves when he went there. First think Douglas still out. He has not been punished for having participated for the frauds with the Old Royals. You are biased you wants only the Sinhala part of the Old Royals punished. How many times you in a month you write the EPDP should be brought to justice?

      Don’t dry to teach EPDP’s law to supreme court justice wiggneswaran. He knows what is his capacity is.

    • 3
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      Dr. Narren -You said it right. NPC should stay within their parameters.
      They have no right to represent the Tamils in N/E on national issues as CM, NPC does not represent Eastern province Tamils but TNA does. and
      they should stick to services to people of the North and let the TNA do the rest. Presentation of the genocide resolution, should have been done by TNA as they are the sole reps, of the Sri Lankan Tamils and not by CM. NPC as EP Tamils too suffered the same fate, at the same time. This resolution was presented at the wrong time, much to the annoyance of the UN and international community as peace was in the offing in the whole country. The recent quarrels with PM Ranil and the governor on transfer of govt/NPC. officials were quite unwarranted and should have been settled by using diplomacy as CM,NPC himself garlanded
      and greeted the civilian governor, when he assumed duties.He also tells
      the visiting dignitaries to Jaffna, recent case was a Australian diplomat, that the govt.in power is not doing anything to solve the Tamil problems or ease the problems where as he was 1st beneficiary by getting a civilian Governor for NPC.

      TNA should rein in the CM NPC before we once again get on the war path and TNA & Sambanthan’s silence on these issues baffles all the Tamils

  • 4
    2

    Dr Jehan Perera
    Ihad the opportunity to know you since 2003 entirely by your correspondence solely on this topic of issue of devolution of power to north and east I am also aware that you are an academic background in UK or USA. I not that you have changed your stance and your personal views on this matter.
    It is during the infamous Chandrika Kumaranatunga’s regime that you came to air your views and came to prominence. The then government controlled autocratically by Chandrika mooted the idea of solution of the tamil ethnic problem . Her policy based on her public statements and indirect propaganda through state controlled media was that the war of terror of LTTE for seccesion was a justified cause. This was and still is theleitmotif of the Sudu Nelum Mvement spearhead by Chandrika a and Mangala Samaraweera which is still alive.
    If I recall correctly you, soon after completing by our academic stint,, you became a vociferous advocate of devolution of power beyond provisions of Amendment 13.
    You became the darling of the then Kumarana tuna government which was kowtoewd with overbearing colonial and neocolonial powers for which their collective representative was Norway.
    I also recall that there were many ripostes to your advocacies , and some questioning if you wre a LTTE supprter or a tamil give the extremeness of your views disguised in academic jargon.
    people of this country then and now are at one in the firm belief and conviction that UN or the west .
    Reason is this.
    US and the west have ignored violation of every every UN resolution by a country called Irael since 1956.
    UN is aware that this is the only so called democratic country where genocide is perpetrated year after year. two million Palestinians are imprisoned in an area of one square mile, being denied access to the outside worldby air, sea or land. then they killed 200 innocent children 2 years ago and bombed their homes to rubble. List of the atrocities committed by Israel is endless. Just one othr point. Who killed the first ever democratic president in Chile and toppled the government.
    Why is there no demand for justice from UN for these heinous crimes but a huge outcry and baying foSri Lankan blood only.
    This is UN for you Mr (or Dr ) Jehan Perera.
    You and your Sudu Nelum movement aided and abetted by religious extremists who will not rest until and unless Buddhism is eliminated from the face of this country.

  • 0
    0

    Dr Jehan Perera
    Ihad the opportunity to know you since 2003 entirely by your correspondence solely on this topic of issue of devolution of power to north and east I am also aware that you are an academic with a background in UK or USA. I note that you have not changed your stance and your personal views on this matter.
    It is during the infamous Chandrika Kumaranatunga’s regime that you came to air your views and came to prominence. The then government controlled autocratically by Chandrika mooted the idea of solution of the tamil ethnic problem . Her policy based on her public statements and indirect propaganda through state controlled media was that the war of terror of LTTE for seccesion was a justified cause. This was and still is theleitmotif of the Sudu Nelum Mvement spearhead by Chandrika a and Mangala Samaraweera which is still alive.
    If I recall correctly you, soon after completing by our academic stint,, you became a vociferous advocate of devolution of power beyond provisions of Amendment 13.
    You became the darling of the then Kumarana tuna government which was kowtoewd with overbearing colonial and neocolonial powers for which their collective representative was Norway.
    I also recall that there were many ripostes to your advocacies , and some questioning if you wre a LTTE supprter or a tamil give the extremeness of your views disguised in academic jargon.
    people of this country then and now are at one in the firm belief and conviction that UN or the west .
    Reason is this.
    US and the west have ignored violation of every every UN resolution by a country called Irael since 1956.
    UN is aware that this is the only so called democratic country where genocide is perpetrated year after year. two million Palestinians are imprisoned in an area of one square mile, being denied access to the outside worldby air, sea or land. then they killed 200 innocent children 2 years ago and bombed their homes to rubble. List of the atrocities committed by Israel is endless. Just one othr point. Who killed the first ever democratic president in Chile and toppled the government.
    Why is there no demand for justice from UN for these heinous crimes but a huge outcry and baying foSri Lankan blood only.
    This is UN for you Mr (or Dr ) Jehan Perera.
    You and your Sudu Nelum movement aided and abetted by religious extremists who will not rest until and unless Buddhism is eliminated from the face of this country.

  • 10
    3

    It is necessary for the new Government to show that the Sinhalese are willing to allow the Tamils to govern the NPC without undue interference.I dont think the national politicians will allow the PCs in the South to function according to the devolution. It will probably be an asymmetric devolution. But unless the world is convinced that the Sinhalese will allow the Tamils a measure of devolution of power they may think a separate State for the Tamils is a necessity. Those extremists who oppose devolution to the NPC are doing great damage to the unity of the country. They are strengthening the case of the Tamils for a separate State.

    • 6
      1

      Mr. R.M.B Senanayake, I salute you, Sir. I hope that your’s is not a lone voice in the wilderness. I pray, not.

      There are many Sinhalese among us with your heart, but, sadly, not with your courage. May the good Lord give them the courage to come forward the way you do. Let us together make Sri Lanka proud, before we lose it.

    • 0
      0

      Really Mr R M B Senanayake?. So we have to show the world thatSinalese are prepared to allow some devolution. You do not realise that demarcation northern province and eastern was like other 7 provinces was made arbitrarily by Britich Colonial rulers for administrative purposes. So article 13, or 13 plus and what next?
      Secondly according to you north and east exclusively for tamils and muslims and the rest of the country for Sinhalese and tamils and muslims to share. What logic is that Mr Senanayake?
      You seem to be getting more and ,more irrational with every comment you venture to make.

  • 6
    1

    Only thing this government did was to change military governers. Nothing else has been done. It promised to release 1000 acres of 6500 acres of private land. It has released some pockets of 197 acres.even that land released had the signature of Mahina which not this government but previous was responsible. Army has stolen the livelihood. Prime minister army will not be removed. Where will the owners 6500 Acres live. If the president believe mulivaikal is humanitarian operation, can we trust the internal inquiry. All this proves we need to separate

    • 0
      3

      Raja,

      “Only thing this government did was to change military governers. Nothing else has been done. It promised to release 1000 acres of 6500 acres of private land. It has released some pockets of 197 acres.even that land released had the signature of Mahina which not this government but previous was responsible. Army has stolen the livelihood. Prime minister army will not be removed. Where will the owners 6500 Acres live. If the president believe mulivaikal is humanitarian operation, can we trust the internal inquiry. All this proves we need to separate”

      It takes much more time to solve all the problems we have in the North. This is hopefully only the beginning and our politicians have to be able to discuss matters instead of infantile stunts.

      Who will protect our fishermen and stop drug smuggling if the Navy is not here?

      There is a new chief secretary and Government Agent. The new GA is apparently a Jaffna Vellalah that should make communication easier. The previous GA was from the East and almost like a shadow of Douglas.

  • 6
    0

    A recent disclosure by a UN representative revealed how the previous government sucessfully destroyed several flies in the UN related to disappearences and human right violations in SriLanka.The person who helped to destroy the files is Tamara Gunanayagam who was later rewarded the ambassador position.This was revealed in an UN-NGO meeting by Adrian Zoller. This is how diabolical our Government leaders are. How can Tamils expect justice from these scoundrels?

  • 0
    2

    “it does not appear that the Genocide Resolution has had the desired impact”, Jehan can you tell me what this secret “expected impact was”. The resolution just tells it as the Eelam guys see it.It is their reality. No impact expected. Just an anchor to ensure that no one forgets their reality.

    No frustration. Just patience and persistence. The whole world can see how having violated the Tamils you n ow want THEM to take the initiative to reconcile. This is like DEMANDING that the rape victim marry her rapist and LIVE HAPPILY WITH HIM EVER AFTER.

    How absolutely damn insensitive you guys are. It is AMAZING!. I mean are you guys HUMAN?

    You keep asking for time for this and time for that – what about the victims of your militarist strategies and violent campaigns that you think are adequate responses to political problems. Who needs time – they to recover – or you to hide your war criminals and war crimes?

    • 2
      0

      Jehan is too ahead or too early. He made too many analysis before election and declared that the Old Royal had made many reconciliations with TNA but it was the one not to accept it. He did it even after he was called to a reconciliation meeting of NGO with Gotha and he was warned by Gotha that NGOs has to stay on their sets at their level(that is the kind of reconciliation Jehan suggesting to TNA from the new Royals). He and S.B. are no different on that issue, that is when in Old Royal government, praise them and blame others and when they they are gone, the other way around. Now he is propping up the new Royals.

      West will come back to Tamil,
      1). 19A get passed,
      2). Ranil lose the election. There will be no further way out for them to depend only on the Sinhala people’s support to run the Lankave politics. That will be the final nail China will put on the west from interfering in Lankave. West has to realize, time is not running just for Tamils, they too are already being thrown out of Lanakve. If they fool around too much now, no more come back. China has a land on South port, Colombo. It is its land even if the port city project violates environmental laws. Under the international laws, Lankave will be stopped from denying the land for China.

      Without any conditions West will return to Tamils, but just after making a big blunder in the war they struggled a lot for a come back to Lankave, it will not be that easy or quick.

      As man, Vasu 1000 better person than Ranil. The fact he an Sinhala Intellectual opportunistic politician is a on different dimension. But good or bad, Vasu Wimal all are on the anti-west election campaign. loosing 19A itself will be a loss for west.

      TNA going as opposition is a biggest loss for Ranil. Sampanthar publicly declared if Ranil stands for EP TNA will withdraw its support for common candidate. “Marumagal Mamiyarin Kauwathai Ammikallil Kaadinaavaam”. Ranil tries to pick on CV for the treatment he received in the EP candidate selection time from Sampanthar. He is trying to down grade the NPC and raise his importance to North as he wants to gain some vote. He wants to establish Youth council, Widowed women councils to harvest northern vote. But he doesn’t want to answer the election promises like withdraw army give back the grabbed lands, rehabilitate the refugees, enact the 13A…

      It was Robert Blake time TNA said it wanted rehabilitation first and reconciliation and accountability second. After Blake left, TNA had realigned with all other Tamils that reconciliation and accountability is the only one can force Sinhala Intellectual Opportunists to realize that Tamils too are human being at some point we have to stop torturing them and demanding more from them to build 6th star hotel in Kerimalai.

  • 4
    0

    Un-elected prime Minister Ranil should stop challenging the CM who got elected with record majority.

    • 2
      0

      Good point! This is the typical arrogance of the Sri Lankan state towards the Tamils.

  • 1
    5

    an inquiry should be made by the government for alleged support given to LTTE terrorists by these TNA. it’s a crime committed against Sinhalese people… all the tamils who have a connection to LTTE should be brought onto justice and charged for supporting terrorists which took the lives of many Sinhalese…then only this kind of investigation will be supported by the country

    • 1
      0

      How about bringing to books who slaughtered Tamils from 1956

    • 2
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      Captain_Cook

      “an inquiry should be made by the government for alleged support given to LTTE terrorists by these TNA. it’s a crime committed against Sinhalese people… “

      I appreciate you taking a high moral ground.

      How about those Sinhalese who had provided arms, ammunition, sanctuary, funds, publicity, …. to LTTE terrorists during the Premadasa’s reign. The army which supplied weapon should also investigate those who actually handled this ingenious operation.

      Have you ever thought about Basil/Tiren axis of evil stopping people from voting in Vanni. They are alleged to have paid a hefty fees to LTTE terrorists. Could you also investigate MR family for funding the LTTE terrorists, violating election laws and money laundering.

      During the terrorism of the Sinhala/Buddhist between 1987 and 1990 MR supported the JVP terrorists, defended them and went to Geneva to lodge his report on human rights violation that took place under UNP regime. This act of betrayal by MR will not be forgotten by the people. He was the first to seek help from UNHRC, an international institution run by the western imperial powers.

      What are we going to do about those who betrayed this island for their own selfish political motives? What are we going to do with those Sinhala/Buddhists terrorists who killed more than 8000 innocent Sinhalese and Buddhists?

  • 4
    1

    The frustration that resulted in the NPC passing the Genocide resolution is understandable to every Tamil. Here we go again, Tamils having voted overwhelmingly for the new President are cheated one more time. You criticize the NPC’s resolution for not being self-critical yet you say nothing about the new government’s first act to whitewash the war crimes investigation. Where is the self-criticism of the Sri Lankan state?? Where is the accountability of the Sri Lankan state for all the anti-Tamil violence starting from the 1950s?? How many resolutions has the Sri Lankan Parliament passed regarding state violence against Tamils that you would consider self-critical? But yet, you want the NPC to be self-critical.

    The argument that the International community will not be impressed by the resolution is nothing new. The International community (and by that you are probably referring to the west and India here) only has self-interests. That is why many Tamils argued for a boycott of the Presidential elections knowing that a anti-western Sinhala regime will be replaced by a pro-western Sinhala regime and the little leverage that the Tamils had over the Sri Lankan state will be lost with no progress on the underlying causes of the conflict. Many of us hoped it would be different with the new government and I am saying this as someone who has always respected your commentaries in the past. Instead we now have a government that comprises of corrupt members from the previous regime and showing the same arrogant behaviour towards Tamils.

    The hope that Tamils had with the new government, that things will be different is disappearing fast, with good reason and good folks like you Jehan Perera, instead of apologising for the new government should hold them accountable just like you did with the MR regime.

    • 0
      0

      Well said Richard

  • 4
    0

    Rational thinking. However, after decades of opposition between the north and the south one cannot expect the northern people to turn around and embrace the new regime. In fact healthy opposition and debate are a sign of good democracy and the minorities both Tamils and Muslims must give vent to their frustrations borne out of years of repression.Bensen

  • 1
    0

    The provincial councils system of governance was compulsively foisted on the Democratic Socialist Republic by the visiting head of the neighbour nation on the then President of the Republic.
    There was considerable opposition among MPs and the citizens and one citizen in uniform even attempted to kill the visiting foreign head of state.
    The first intention of the “pact” was to provide a unit of separate governance – a Council – to the northeast only.
    But, the President who had 5/6 majority in parliament, on his own, foisted such Councils on all provinces.
    Thus were born the perpetual “white elephants” called ‘provincial councils’ which no one wanted.

    The system of governance on the northern & eastern PCs differ from that which exists in all other councils, including suppression of citizens’ rights by the armed forces.

    All the bitterness and frustration of the NPC is because of this.
    Hence, talking of “constructive engagement” does not solve the problem.

  • 1
    0

    Jehan,
    Since 1994 you have been peddling the same soap with ever changing wrappers. Now you are not recognising that not only the soap but even the wrapper design is still the same with a little bit of shade of colour. I remember the days you and your colleagues were pedaling federalism. Now you all have a different tune. Tamils were fooled many times.
    Now you have a different generation of young Tamils. They are not violent but equally determined to be free. Whipping the Diaspora when Diaspora no longer has the influence they had before only make matters worse. Whipping at a ghost in Devil chasing ceremonies will only discredit whatever little credibility you are left with.

    Take a sabatical and retool yourself to the new realities of the present. The same old Second Track efforts are old tools. It has been tried before during the war. Now direct transparent negotiations is what people will listen to these days.
    Let the present government face to the realities of its own people and put out a solution before the election and let the people decide. The days of playing hide and seek and personal nepotism with the Tamils, the Sinhalese and the Muslim communities to stay or come back to power is OVER. There is a new GENERATION Jehan. Wake Up.

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