ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Sri Lanka : Paths Not Taken

Paths Not Taken With the dissolution of parliament and the announcement of general elections, a turbulent term of government has wound down. While it began on a conciliatory, but tough, note with Chandrika Kumaratunga pursuing the dialogue mode with the LTTE, she was soon to realise that the latter was a past master at this game. Not once but several times the government and the president

With the dissolution of parliament and the announcement of general elections, a turbulent term of government has wound down. While it began on a conciliatory, but tough, note with Chandrika Kumaratunga pursuing the dialogue mode with the LTTE, she was soon to realise that the latter was a past master at this game. Not once but several times the government and the president's personal diplomacy attempted to bridge the yawning gap between Tamil demands and Sinhala ethnic pride. And every time the LTTE followed its own script and hit back at ill-prepared government forces to regain lost ground. All this has left the Tamil population of the north-east confused. Most reports indicate that these regions are ready for a brokered peace. LTTE's audacious forays with frontal offensives as well as suicide bomber attacks in the south have made for further demoralisation of the already exhausted and frustrated troops who have time and again had to pull back as the government has pursued peace efforts, only to have the Tigers rearm and regroup.

The devolution package and the revision of the constitution to bring about a federal structure was an early response of the government. However, it was stalled because of opposition from the Tamil groups on the unit of devolution – whether the north and the east should be merged – and the extent of powers to be given to the regional council. By the time these issues had been sorted out, the Sri Lankan forces which had successfully captured not only Jaffna but vital passes and roads were under siege with the unleashing of the LTTE's counter-attacks. Meanwhile protests by the Sinhala-led opposition to the bill on devolution mounted and even became violent.

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