UNP plans to disrupt package
[TamilNet, Tuesday, 21 October 1997, 23:59 GMT]
The members of the UNP in the Parliamentary Select Committee issued a statement today regarding the party's position on the government's devolution proposals.
This was issued while the Select Committee was in session in Parliament this afternoon.
The UNP statement blames the government for not taking steps to end the conflict in the northeast by initiating talks with the LTTE although it had formally agreed in April 1996 not to undermine such an effort.
It said that devolution should only be granted within a united and indivisible Sri Lanka. "Our party however cannot agree to any process that will lead to the division and dismemberment of the country" added the statement.
The statement stressed that the constitutional reform to implement the devolution package should strictly adhere to the procedure laid down by the present constitution and that "recourse to any other procedure would be unconstitutional and illegal".
The statement is seen as a move by the UNP to pre-empt the PA from taking its devolution proposal to Parliament as a white paper and then submitting it to approval at a referendum.
The statement confirms speculation that the United National Party might challenge the legality of the reform process which the PA intends to follow in the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka.
The Parliamentary Select Committee is meeting today to finalise the modality of presenting the PA's proposal to the legislature as a sessional or white paper with the reservations expressed by the minority parties and the UNP included as a 'rider' to the paper.
A white paper has no legal status in Parliament unlike a bill.
The UNP says that this white paper is designed by the PA to drive a wedge in due course between itself and the minorities.