B. Muralidhar Reddy

Till April 2007, LTTE violated it 3,830 times and government 351 times

SLMM has stopped issuing ruling on violations

CFA has become a joke: Defence Secretary

COLOMBO: The Norwegian-brokered 2002 Cease Fire Agreement (CFA) between the Sri Lanka Government and the LTTE is reduced to the status of a meaningless paper. As per the figures available till April 2007, the LTTE has violated the agreement 3,830 times and the government 351 times.

The escalation of hostilities since the LTTE blocked a waterway in the east in July 2006 was so sharp that the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) has, for over a year now, stopped issuing ruling on the violations. The SLMM has taken the view that the scale of violations is so high that it is not possible to effectively monitor the ground situation.

Consensus

There is consensus among all watchers of the situation in Sri Lanka that the CFA has virtually become defunct and the agreement has failed to achieve the objectives.

As per the preamble of the CFA: “The overall objective of the Government of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka (hereinafter referred to as the GOSL) and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (hereinafter referred to as the LTTE) is to find a negotiated solution to the ongoing ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka.

“The GOSL and the LTTE (hereinafter referred to as the Parties) recognise the importance of bringing an end to the hostilities and improving the living conditions for all inhabitants affected by the conflict. Bringing an end to the hostilities is also seen by the Parties as a means of establishing a positive atmosphere in which further steps towards negotiations on a lasting solution can be taken.

“The Parties further recognise that groups that are not directly party to the conflict are also suffering the consequences of it. This is particularly the case as regards the Muslim population. Therefore, the provisions of this Agreement regarding the security of civilians and their property apply to all inhabitants.”

Intense battle

After the LTTE chose to block a waterway in the east in July 2006, the Mahinda Rajapaksa Government took on the Tigers in the name of defensive military operations. In the next few months, the Tigers were driven out of the east. Currently, the government forces and the LTTE are engaged in intense battles along the Forward Defence Lines (FDLs) in the north.

It was against this backdrop that in an interview with the State-owned English paper, Daily News, Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, who is brother of President Rajapaksa, said last Sunday that the CFA had become irrelevant.

In the run-up to the 2005 presidential elections, Mr. Rajapaksa vowed to scrap the CFA and replace Norway as the official facilitator of the peace talks. However, after assuming power he chose to continue with the CFA in the face of pressure from the international community.

The Defence Secretary told the daily that the CFA had become a joke in the eyes of the people with so many violations. “The Ceasefire Agreement exists only on paper. Obviously we can see that there is no ceasefire. It has become a joke.”

On December 16, President Mahinda Rajapaksa said his government could ban the LTTE if the organisation were to repeat incidents like the parcel bomb attack on the outskirts of Colombo on November 28.

In an informal talk with a small group of journalists at the Presidential Palace on the occasion of a pre-Christmas party, Mr. Rajapaksa had said there “were limits to the tolerance of his government vis-a-vis the dastardly activities” of the Tigers.

More In: Today's Paper