'Ranil should adopt a holistic approach'

CHENNAI SEPT. 26. The Wickremesinghe Government must adopt a ``holistic approach'' to the Sri Lankan problem and not see the crisis as a mere Sinhalese-Tamil ethnic conflict, according to Gamini Samaranayake, professor of political science, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka.

The situation in the island nation could turn volatile if adequate attention is not paid to the south, where the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna is expanding its Sinhala chauvinist base and in the north-east, where there is growing resentment among Muslims, Prof. Samaranayake, said in an interview to The Hindu.

The present strategy of the Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, appeared to be to attempt economic reconstruction of Sri Lanka with help from the international community while holding on to tenuous peace resulting from the ceasefire with the LTTE. Even the LTTE realised that the UNP Government was weak and would not be able to take the negotiations beyond the issue of putting in place an interim administration. Mr. Wickremesinghe seemed preparing for the 2006 Presidential election, after which he expected to tame the LTTE with help from the United States, Japan and Norway, he said.

However, such a course would result in the JVP gaining ground at the expense of both the SLFP and the UNP. The unrest was also spreading to the north-east.

Solution to the crisis in Sri Lanka should go beyond the ethnic conflict and the Government should try to understand the class basis of the mobilisation of Sinhala peasantry and unemployed youth. The anti-Tamil rhetoric of the JVP was only a tool to mobilise the Sinhalese youth, he said.

The LTTE, he pointed out, continued with violence at the lower levels. The Government was losing grip on the situation. It depended on international sympathy, and loans and aid, and was becoming unpopular at home. A consensus among SLFP and UNP was essential if the peace efforts were to succeed, he added.

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