Thursday, July 29, 1999 Published at 15:56 GMT 16:56 UK
World: South Asia
Analysis: Sri Lanka's voice of moderation
The conflict in Sri Lanka has so far defied a solution
By South Asia analyst Rashmee Ahmed
In the death of Neelan Thiruchelvam, the Sri Lankan peace process - such as it was - has lost an important link between the Sinhala and Tamil communities.
Mr Thiruchelvam was a leading member of the Tamil United Liberation Front, which is accused by the LTTE of betraying Tamil interests.
He entered parliament through the indirectly-elected national list and could, therefore, hardly be called a mass leader.
But he was a moderate and reasonable politician who used his expertise in constitutional law to argue for constitutional reform and greater flexibility in the devolution of power on the Scottish and Welsh pattern.
It proposed a wider list of subjects for provincial governments, establishing a structure to resolve disputes between centre and provinces and greater recognition of disparate minority communities.
But in one of his last speeches on the need for a new deal for Sri Lanka, Mr Thiruchelvam warned that even constitutional reform was not enough - instead, politics itself would need to be, in his words, re-imagined, away from the prevailing adversarial culture.