2ND LEAD (Correction)
USAID, CPA hold symposium on federalism
[TamilNet, Monday, 06 February 2006, 11:23 GMT]
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), in partnership with the Center for Policy Alternatives (CPA), Monday held a symposium titled "The future of Sri Lanka and the federal idea," at Bandaranaike Memorial Center, Colombo, engaging more than 500 participants in a discussion on the history of the Sri Lanka's conflict, past attempts at negotiated settlements, and the basic facts about devolution of power and federalism, a press release issued by the US embassy in Colombo said Monday.
Full text of the press release follows:
COLOMBO, February 6, 2006- The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), in partnership with the Center for Policy Alternatives (CPA), today held a symposium titled "The future of Sri Lanka and the federal idea," engaging more than 500 participants in a discussion on the history of the country's conflict, past attempts at negotiated settlements, and the basic facts about devolution of power and federalism.
U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka Jeffrey J. Lunstead (Photo: U.S. Embassy)
The symposium at the Bandaranaike Memorial International Center represents the culmination of a series of grass roots-level workshops facilitated by CPA that involved more than 25 community groups and was funded through a grant from the USAID Office of Transition Initiatives. Through this activity, USAID hopes to establish a core group of trained and informed key community leaders who can transfer their knowledge to the public at large. Improving community awareness of federalism as a model of power sharing could help provide a solution to the Sri Lankan conflict.
"Information and communication are critical to advancing the peace process in Sri Lanka," U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka Jeffrey J. Lunstead said at the opening. "Federalism is one model for a non-violent solution, but the United States has no desire to tell Sri Lanka how to run its country or what kind of model to adopt."
The symposium was organized in response to the widely held view that a dearth of information exists at all levels about the process of federalism and its implications for Sri Lankans, as well as some of the other core issues under discussion and debate.
"Educating and informing the public at large about this concept will allow them to participate more knowledgeably, and confidently, in this important conversation," USAID Mission Director Dr. Carol Becker said.
The USAID/OTI Sri Lanka program was established in March 2003 within the USAID mission in Colombo. It aims to generate greater support for a negotiated peace settlement to end the island nation's longstanding internal conflict by creating awareness and increasing understanding on key transition issues, and supporting increased collaboration among diverse groups at the community level to identify and address local needs. Through its flexible small-grants program, USAID/OTI has awarded 487 grants worth more than $14 million.