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Last updated: 19 February, 2008 - Published 11:35 GMT
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Devolution only solution - CBK

The only way to resolve Sri Lanka's national question is devolving power to the regions, former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga said.

Speaking with BBC Sandeshaya on the 20 anniversary of the assassination of her husband, Vijaya Kumaratunga, she insisted that there is no military solution for the conflict.

Former President Chandrika Kumaratunga
Mrs. Kumaratunga says her late husband's policies are much needed today

"The best tribute for Vijaya is to help finding a lasting political solution based on devolution of power," Mrs. Kumaratunga said.

Her late husband, actor turned politician Mr. Kumaratunga who led an alliance of socialist parties, actively campaigned for a political solution to the national question.

In the early eighties, together with his wife, he visited Chennai to meet Tamil militant leaders including LTTE Supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran who was staying in Tamil Nadu at the time.

Left-wing alliance leader

Vijaya Kumaratunga was assassinated by a gunman in front of his residence on 16 February 1988.

Sinhala nationalist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), that opposed any devolution of power and was very critical of Mr. Kumaratunga's policies, is accused of killing the popular politician.

Vijaya Kumaratunga
Mr. Kumaratunga campaigned for a just political solution

Mrs. Kumaratunga formed a government with the JVP in 2004 after sacking the United National Party (UNP) government that signed a wide ranging truce with the Tamil Tigers.

Her decision to sack Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe’s government was widely regarded by the analysts as a step backward for the peace process.

Mrs. Kumaratunga came to power in 1994 promising peace and development. There was a period of ceasefire since she came to power.

Her attempts to amend Sri Lankan constitution introducing devolution of power were made fruitless as the amendment was rejected by the UNP in 1995.

'War for peace'

Two main Sinhala political parties argued over technalities leading once again the country to the full scale of war.

The first woman executive president of Sri Lanka is accused of continuing with the war instead of actively trying to find a political solution during her 11-year rule.

 War was thrusted upon us by the Tamil Tigers, and then I had no alternative. We however, regularly maintained contacts with the LTTE in an attempt to restart negotiations.
Former President Kumaratunga

"War was thrusted upon us by the Tamil Tigers, and then I had no alternative," she told BBC

"We however, regularly maintained contacts with the LTTE in an attempt to restart negotiations," she said.

The former president whose both parents were heads of state in Sri Lanka accused President Mahinda Rajapaksa's current administration of restarting the war.

Alliance with the JVP

When questioned that the current government did not attack the LTTE positions until after the repeated provocations by the LTTE including the attempted assassination of the Army Commander, Mrs. Kumaratunga said that was not true.

Mrs. Kumaratunga (R) with Mr. Wickramasinghe
Mrs. Kumaratunga later said sacking the UNP govt. was one of her 'serious mistakes'

The Rajapaksa administration, she said, attacked LTTE positions even during the talks between the parties.

She was not trying to condone the assassination attempt on Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka, Mrs. Kumaratunga stressed.

Mrs. Kumaratunga is of the opinion that current politicians in Sri Lanka are not interested in finding a lasting solution to the decades-long war.

"It is not mere peace that is needed. Peace and humanity is what is currently lacking in Sri Lanka," she told BBC Sandeshaya.

"What Vijaya possessed and many politicians currently lacked is humanity".

A selection of your views:

Devolution as a solution is long gone. The only solution left is to give Tamils the right of self determination. Chandrika is not wise enough to understand that political concept. Therfore she could not convince the Sinhalese masses.
Sam Thambipillai, London, UK

She was not allowed to rule the country in a properway, she tried to implement lot of good things in our country but failed due the political situation at time In general all the politicians talk sense when they are not in power.
Maryclare de Silva, Moratuwa, Sri Lanka

She has got no rights to talk about this matter, when she was in power she has done nothing to the country she too followed the past politicians steps and now crying we call this (crocodile tears) she could have done lot of things to the country and people refused her for doing nothing but filling her stomach you have norights to talk now as you are refused by the public.
Upul Shantha Millaliyanage, Colombo

The overly convincing empty rhetoric fooled both communities for over a decade. You had the power, and what did we accomplish? zip, zero. Things are somewhat better now, and please don't messes it up again.
Sugath Ganegoda, Toronto, Canada

She is a very great woman in the world. She gave one of her eyes for our country. Some times she did a lot of mistakes but we should forgive her.
Samudralal Wijeratne, Badulla, Sri Lanka

It is the same for every Srilankan leader that they could not devolve power when in governoment and talks a good game in retirment.The majority would not like anybody that might share power with Tamils and Tamils do not have other option but to fight for their rights.
Kandasamy, UK

You had no firm stance on the ethnic crisis. One time you elected negotiations and peace, then war. Now again you want negotiation. What will your next stance?
Thushara, Brisbane, Australia

How dire CBK talks about devlution, when her father signed a federal system and then failed to impliment it. She sent in an army into jaffna during her rein and over 600 people disappeared.
Krishan Kanagasabey, UK

You had a 11years of time why did not finished the problem in that way.And handover to next gourment ?
Shiwantha Amerasinghe, Manama, Bahrain

Mrs CBK was the president of Sri Lanka for almost 12 years and she did not introduce her so called devolving power to the regions. Now she is out of power for the rest of her life but she is still thinking that she is an active plitician in Sri Lanka. My kind request for her to go home and take rest of life.
Dayaratne Bandara, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

It if because of her foolish action we are in this mess again.
Suresh Muttiah, Toronto, Canada

Were you the president of Sri Lanka some time ago. When did you wake up madam?
Danton Fernando, Washington DC, USA

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