India wants Northeast merger to stand - report

[TamilNet, Sunday, 26 November 2006, 07:43 GMT]
India has again called upon Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse to honour the Indo-Sri Lanka Agreement and give legal force to the Northeast merger, The Sunday Leader newspaper reported this week. Even before the Supreme Court’s ruling in October that the merger of the North and East in 1987 was ‘null, void and illegal’, Delhi had already expressed its opposition to the move, a view echoed by the Co-Chairs – US, EU, Japan and Norway – last week.

The latest request by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was communicated to Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse by Indian External Affairs Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon last Thursday at Temple Trees in their one to one meeting.

The Sunday Leader learns Mr. Menon had told the President the Indo-Lanka Agreement was a bilateral agreement between two sovereign countries subject to international law and therefore cannot be vitiated through a reference to domestic law.

Informed sources told the paper the President was also told by Mr. Menon that the merger was a consequence of the Indo-Sri Lanka Agreement that was aimed at providing for the political aspirations of the Tamil speaking people and not the Tamil Tigers.

The paper has learnt that Prime Minister Singh will personally inform President Rajapakse of India's position on the merger when the duo meets this week in New Delhi.

In their statement last week, the Co-Chairs reiterated their view stated in September that the present arrangements of the Northeast should not be disturbed.

The main southern parties should produce a credible power-sharing proposal that can help form the basis for a viable negotiated settlement, the Co-Chairs said.

“A the same time, the specific arrangements for the north and east should not be disturbed as they are fundamental to continuing the dialogue to achieve an agreement.

President Rajapakse told a Tamil National Alliance (TNA) parliamentary delegation two weeks ago that he was unhappy with the Supreme Court decision to demerge the provinces and would take remedial steps.

The President had also reiterated this position with Mr. Menon, it is learnt, The Sunday Leader said.

Meanwhile, main opposition United National Party (UNP) leader Ranil Wickremesinghe informed Mr. Menon on Thursday that his party stands ready to support any legislation introduced by the Rajapakse government to give legal effect to the merger in terms of the Indo- Sri Lanka Agreement.

The ultra-Sinhala nationalist Janatha Vimukthi Perumana (JVP) has threatened to withdraw its support to the government if legislation is introduced to give legal force to the merger.

Parliamentarians from the JVP, which campaigned strongly for Rajapakse during last year’s Presidential elections, filed the petition in the Supreme Court against the 1987 merger.

 

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