Package in Parliament next month - minister
[TamilNet, Saturday, 22 July 2000, 08:25 GMT]
The Sri Lankan government said Saturday that it will place proposals for constitutional change in Parliament in the first week of August. Mr.Batty Weerakoon, Sri Lanka's Minister for Science and Technology, said today that the decision to submit the constitutional reform proposals to Parliament was taken at the discussion between the government and the United National Party. The Minister, however, said that the elections to the Parliament due by November this year will be held under the present constitution.
He stated that once the constitutional reform package is placed before the Parliament it can be debated over a long period and changes can be made to it with the permission of the speaker. The government and the UNP could even suggest improvements to matters on which both sides have agreed according to the Minister.
Mr.Batty Weerakoon said that the UNP has informed the government that it has to get the endorsement of its executive committee on the matters upon which agreement had been reached.
Commenting on this development, Mr.Joseph Pararajasingham TULF MP for Batticaloa told TamilNet that it is quite evident from the Minister's statement that a solution to the ethnic problem is again set to drag on inconclusively and indefinitely.
"It is now clear that the proposals will not be put to vote in Parliament before the elections because the government is now saying that the Parliamentary polls will be held under the provisions of the present constitution. This means that there cannot be a clear majority for anyone as the elections will be based on the proportional representation system. Once the elections are over, issues are bound to change and the proposals will just languish in Parliament and come to nought in due course" Mr. Pararajasingham said.
"The UNP's stand that it has to get the endorsement of its executive committee shows that it just wants to keep dragging its feet on the issue. Placing the proposals in Parliament without taking the objections of the Tamil parties into account shows that both major parties are only too keen to shirk the matter off and get on with their election campaigns. The Tamils have been led up the garden path again on the question of changing the constitution to implement an acceptable solution to the ethnic conflict" said a leader of an ex Tamil militant group, reacting to the government's announcement today.