Ranil warns against altering Sri Lanka's constitution

[TamilNet, Friday, 29 October 2004, 16:30 GMT]
Sri Lanka’s opposition leader Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe said Friday that any attempt by President Chandrika Kumaratunga to alter the country’s constitution might encourage the Liberation Tigers to exercise the mandate obtained by the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) at the last general elections to summon their own constituent assembly in the northeast. Addressing a seminar by the International Democratic Union-Asia Pacific Democratic Union at the Taj Samudra Hotel in downtown Colombo, he said: “it can really throw a spanner in the peace process."

Sri Lanka’s opposition has expressed fears that President Chandrika Kumaratunga might alter the constitution to stay on in power.

Cautioning further against changing the constitution, Mr. Wickremesinghe said: “There are many dangers. Firstly when you start violating the constitution and try to work with the majority of one, it certainly leaves the door open that every succeeding government in this country can change the constitution as they like against the people’s will."

“It can really throw a spanner in the peace process firstly by disrupting bipartisan approach and secondly by enabling the LTTE, if they so desire, to call a constituent assembly. So we are at cross roads. Secondly, if a constituent assembly is summoned in Colombo outside the constitution there is nothing to prevent the LTTE summoning a similar one in the North East. There are 22 Tamil members who have been mandated to vote for an Interim Self Governing Authority (ISGA) for North-East. That is a crisis," Mr. Wickremesinghe said.




The following are further excerpts of his speech:

''There was already a frame work in place in the Tokyo declaration. If you arrive at any solution, any agreement with the LTTE, either on a final solution or an interim solution which comes within the framework of this declaration, the UNP will give its support. This is where we stand,'' he added.

''In our discussion with the LTTE, we were able to come to a framework. The framework we arrived at through discussion with the LTTE was then incorporated in a declaration made in Tokyo. Fifty odd countries and twenty two international agencies supported us in our peace process and promised to support to develop our economy.

''Firstly we agreed with the LTTE that we will search for a viable option for separate state demanded by them and they would be willing to give up the demand for the separate state if we were able to agree on a federal structure which would provide internal self determination for those areas in the North and East where the Tamil people live. This was an option. Instead of the separate state they were prepared to consider this option. Then that any settlement will be based on democracy, rule of law, Human rights, and respect for minority people and equal treatment for all community'."

''We went further and said that their should be a interim administrative structure to ensure the reconstruction, development and the day to day administration of the North and East until the final settlement was arrived. We also agreed that there should be a Muslim delegation to take part in the peace talks."


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