TULF to boycott 17th amendment debate

[TamilNet, Sunday, 23 September 2001, 18:17 GMT]
The Tamil United Liberation Front has decided to boycott the debate on 17 th amendment to constitution scheduled for Monday in parliament.A decision to this effect was taken Sunday at the central working committee of the TULF. "The TULF is of view that the proposals presented do not ensure the effective representation of the minority nationalities on the constitutional council, so as to guarantee an adequate and genuine participation on behalf of the minority nationalities in the deliberations and decision making processes of the council", said the Secretary General of the TULF Mr.R.Sampanthan in a statement issued at the conclusion of the central working committee of the TULF held Sunday evening.

"The TULF cannot with justification partake in piecemeal constitutional reform, when no serious effort is in progress to resolve the Tamil national question", the statement further said,.

The full text of the TULF statement follows:

"The Central Working Committee of the TULF met on 23rd September to consider the proposed 17th Amendment to the constitution.

"The proposed 17th amendment contains provisions for the establishment of the constitutional council and powers which inter-alia includes the appointment of several commissions such as the Elections Commission, the Delimitation Commission, the Human Rights Commission, the Public Service Commission, the National Police Commission, the Finance Commission and approval of recommendations made regarding the appointment of important functionaries such as judges of the Supreme Court and Appeal Court Judges, the Attorney General, the Inspector General of Police etc.

"The TULF is of the view that the proposals presented do not ensure the effective representation of the minority nationalities on the constitutional council, so as to guarantee an adequate and genuine participation on behalf of the minority nationalities in the deliberations and decision making process of the council.

"The constitutional council is vested with extensive authority and its determinations will have a substantial influence on the exercise by the various commissions and institutions of their wide ranging powers and duties.

"The powers and duties exercised by these different commissions and institutions are inextricably linked to the recognition and enforcement of the democratic and fundamental rights of the different peoples in the country. The lack of effective representation on behalf of the minority nationalities on the constitutional council will inevitably result in the diminution of, and have an adverse impact on, the exercise of their democratic and fundamental rights by the peoples who constitute the minority nationalities.

"The TULF desires to point out that this is a seriously flawed aspect of the current proposals to establish a constitutional council. Similar deficiencies exist in the provisions relating to the appointment of the different commissions.

"The TULF has actively participated in the current constitutional reform process from August 1994. The TULF has always insisted that constitutional reform should predominately encompasses arrangements for the effective sharing of the powers of governance, by granting very substantial political autonomy to a region in the north-east.

"The Tamil political agenda in the past fifty years has democratically and peacefully agitated for such constitutional reform. The TULF has disfavoured piecemeal constitutional reform, as this would further retard the effective sharing of the powers of governance between the Centre and a region in the north-east.

"The war in which the country has been embroiled for over the past 20 years solely attributable to the failure to grant such substantial and genuine political autonomy to a region in the north-east.

"Any attempt since 1994 to find a just solution to the Tamil national question has remained elusive, primarily because of the failure of the two main political parties, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party and the United National Party to adopt a bi-partisan approach towards such resolution.

"The TULF has for long strongly urged the cessation of hostilities and the commencement of negotiations with the L.T.T.E. The Norwegian initiative with the acceptance of the Government and the LTTE provided the first real opportunity for this to commence. The TULF states that by misconceived actions, taken perhaps, to achieve short term political gains, opportunities for the commencement of meaningful negotiations between the Government and the LTTE were not grasped between November, 2000 and April 2001. The impasse that was thereby created has been further compounded by provisions in the memorandum of understanding between the Peoples' Alliance and the Janata Vimukthi Peramuna, which further inhibits the commencement of a credible and meaningful dialogue between the Government and the LTTE.

"Piecemeal constitutional reform in this situation can only further retard the just resolution of the Tamil national question. Such piecemeal constitutional reform in the current situation is akin to attempts to refurbish a house, which is engulfed by the flames of a major fire. The primary need is to extinguish the flames and put out the fire. The people most affected by the destructive fire, which rages chiefly in the north-east, are the Tamil people.

"The TULF cannot with justification partake in piecemeal constitutional reform, when no serious effort is in progress to resolve the Tamil national question. This is not to belittle the conceptual validity of the proposals for the establishment of the constitutional council etc., if framed so as to safeguard the concerns of minority nationalities also, but to emphasise the urgent and vital importance of constitutional reform that will evolve a just and national question. Towards this end, the TULF strongly urges the taking of all necessary steps without further delay, for the active revival of the Norwegian initiative and the commencement of meaningful negotiations with the LTTE. This is only means to end the bloody war and to bring peace with justice to the whole country. This has to be the first step towards the eradication of all the other ills the country faces.

"This is the yearning of the vast majority of all peoples in the country."

 

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