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Sumanthiran claims TNA-President meeting soon

  • Slams PTA amendments as ‘absolutely no change for the better’

BY Pamodi Waravita

Illankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi (ITAK) Parliamentarian and Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Spokesman President’s Counsel (PC) M.A. Sumanthiran said yesterday (31 January) that Foreign Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris had said that the meeting between the TNA leadership and President Gotabaya Rajapaksa will “happen very soon”.

Speaking to The Morning yesterday, Sumanthiran said that Prof. Peiris had made these remarks at a breakfast meeting that was held in Jaffna on 30 January.

Last year, the TNA said in a statement that a meeting with the President was scheduled to discuss reforms to the Constitution. However, this meeting was postponed, and a new meeting is yet to be held.

Work on drafting a new Constitution has been underway since 2020, with Justice Minister M.U.M. Ali Sabry PC, stating on 28 January that a draft will be handed over to the President in February. Sumanthiran had earlier urged that Sri Lanka should “go beyond” the controversial 13th Amendment to the Constitution in order to achieve “meaningful devolution”. The 13th Amendment to the Constitution, passed in 1987 and supported by the Government of India, created the provincial councils (PCs) election system which led to the establishment of PCs in each province in the country in an attempt at the devolution of power. However, the PCs have since garnered many criticisms, with some members of the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) recently calling for its repeal.

Meanwhile, Prof. Peiris said last week that the Cabinet of Ministers had given their final approval to the amendments to be made to the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act No. 48 of 1979 (PTA). Commenting on this yesterday, Sumanthiran said that he had “raised the issue about the PTA ‘reform’” at the aforesaid meeting and had “told them (the authorities) that the word ‘reform’ will have to be re-defined”. “There is absolutely no change for the better in the PTA (Amendment) Bill that has been gazetted,” he added.

On 27 January, Sumanthiran had held a party leaders’ meeting, where it had been agreed that Sri Lanka should immediately protect the poor from the economic crisis, and restructure Sri Lanka’s external debt. Opposition and Samagi Jana Balawegeya (SJB) Leader Sajith Premadasa, United National Party (UNP) Leader and MP Ranil Wickremesinghe, Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP) Leader and SLPP MP Prof. Tissa Vitarana, National People’s Power (NPP) MP Dr. Harini Amarasuriya, ITAK MP Shanakiyan Rasamanickam, Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) Leader and SJB MP Rauff Hakeem, All Ceylon Makkal Congress (ACMC) Leader and SJB MP Rishad Bathiudeen, and SJB MPs Eran Wickramaratne and Dr. Harsha de Silva had attended this meeting.