The tsunami and the Sri Lankan Civil War

The tsunami devastated much of Sri Lanka, killing an estimated 38,000 people on an island with a population of 20 million, but it may have also provided an opportunity for progress on ending the decades long civil war.  The Hindu interviews Ram Manikkalingam, Senior Adviser to the Sri Lankan President.

“[The Hindu] Post-tsunami, is there a change in the decades-long positions held by the Government and the rebels?

[RM] Usually in the peace processes in Sri Lanka, the leadership of both parties — the LTTE and the Government — come to a decision that there needs to be a ceasefire and talks should begin. They have been top-down processes.

The change with the tsunami has been that there has been a pull from the bottom for cooperation. There was, in a sense, the pull factor, which is very, very strong unlike the previous peace processes, and the leadership is catching up with the demand on the ground for cooperation.

Could you elaborate on the [joint] mechanism?

The mechanism consists of three tiers. There is a three-member high-level committee with a nominee each by the Government, the LTTE and the Muslim parties. This will be essentially involved with the policy of allocating resources.”