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No reconciliation if Ranil rejects federalism: TNA

No reconciliation if Ranil rejects federalism: TNA

31 Jan 2023 | BY Mirudhula Thambiah

  • Claims RW had stood for federal solution in the past
  • Says plan to resolve national problem by Independence has failed

Following President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s assertion on Thursday (27) that he is opposed to federalism in Sri Lanka, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) stated that there can be no meaningful power sharing under a unitary model and that if President Ranil Wickremesinghe has taken the stance that there is no federal solution, then his effort for reconciliation has failed.

Speaking to The Daily Morning yesterday (30), TNA’s spokesman, Parliamentarian and President’s Counsel M.A. Sumanthiran said that there had been instances in the past since 2005, when President Wickremesinghe had supported a federal solution. 

“But, if he has taken this stance now, that there is no federal solution, then his effort concerning reconciliation has failed. There can be no meaningful power sharing under a unitary model. Until now, he stood for a federal solution, so we negotiated. Now that the final and permanent solution is not possible, is he not willing to cross the line into a federal structure? But, because of that, we will not oppose him implementing all the provisions with regard to power sharing that are already in the Constitution. Implementing all the powers of the Provincial Councils that are contained in the Constitution anyhow is no final solution to the ethnic issue,” he said.

Sumanthiran added that the plan to resolve the national issue before the 75th Independence Day celebrations on 4 February has failed.

“That is why we have said that we are opposed to the celebration of the Independence Day as we have not got our independence. We gave it our best shot when he said that he will resolve it. We didn’t stand aside. We said that you will have our fullest support if you will do it. But now, he is not doing it and has publicly said that he is not for a federal solution. That means that it can’t be done.” 

However, he also noted that his Party would continue to meet President Wickremesinghe in regard to land related releases and the release of Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act (PTA) prisoners too. “Whenever some land is taken, we have to meet the authorities. Regarding this process also, nothing has happened as of yet, but just because nothing has happened so far, it does not mean that we must not meet him. We will continue to meet him and push for those lands to be released. Now, 108 acres are to be handed over to the people and that will happen. Small steps, yet moving forward. It was only because we met him in Jaffna when he came there that we were able to go into the details of the 108 acres of land. The Navy said that another 30 acres would be released. Also, regarding lands in Palaly East, we made some forward momentum and yesterday (29), they were removing all the barriers to hand that over,” he said. 

He further noted that during their last meeting, the Cabinet had decided that they would go back to the 1985 map in regard to Forest Department and Wildlife Conservation Department lands. “Now, the Cabinet has approved that. Therefore, that process is good. A lot of land belonging to our people have been taken away by the Forest, Wildlife Conservation and Archeology Departments. We need to get them released and for that, we would continue to meet him,” he explained.

Sumanthiran also said that in regard to the release of PTA prisoners, the Government has finally said that they will release three persons. “Earlier, they said that five can be released, but apparently, in the case of two of those five, the victims haven’t given their consent. Now that we have an Assistance to and Protection of Victims of Crime and Witnesses Act, their consent is necessary, and they haven’t obtained the consent of the victims in respect of two of those five persons. I was told that three persons would be released. This is not enough and we want all of them to be released. But, we are not going to oppose three persons being released. The three prisoners are expected to be released by 4 February, but the date is yet to be confirmed”.

Previously, at the all party conference held on 26 January, President Wickremesinghe had said that he intends to implement the existing law in accordance with the Executive powers of the President. He said further that the 13th Amendment to the Constitution should be implemented accordingly or that the Parliament should abolish the 13th Amendment. President Wickremesinghe also pointed out that any MP could move a private Member’s bill to abolish the 13th Amendment and that the same amendment would have to be implemented, provided that the bill is not voted against by a majority of the House. The President stressed that he was not ready to divide the country at all and that he would not betray the Sinhalese people.

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