In: Kumar Rupesinghe, ed. Negotiating Peace in Sri Lanka, Efforts, Failures & Lessons. Volume 2, Foundation for Co-existence, Colombo.
The focus of this paper is the 2002 – 2004 peace process and the defeat of the UNF government in April 2004 general election. It begins with a description of the context in which the peace process began. The years 2000 and 2001 were characterised by a civil war without any end, regime instability and an economic crisis. This section argues that the economic crisis faced by the country in 2001 was a major impetus for the peace process.
As a result the UNF government launched a strategy consisting of three elements – a ceasefire agreement and negotiations with the LTTE, an extensive economic reform programme and a conscious attempt to mobilise international support for both these elements. It received enthusiastic support from donor countries. There was a remarkable degree of congruence in the interests and ideas between the UNF leadership and donors. The second part, which form the bulk of the paper focuses on the UNF strategy and politics of donor countries.
The last part of the paper goes on to explain the defeat of the UNF. The principal argument is that the overall vision which informed the UNF economic reform agenda was not conducive to maintaining the support of the majority Sinhala population. The politics of economic reform programme alienated a large section of the majority Sinhala population leading to the defeat of the UNF.
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