TULF woos UNP over package

[TamilNet, Saturday, 04 October 1997, 23:59 GMT]
The TULF met with Sri Lanka's United National Party today to discuss the PA government's devolution package. The TULF delegation went to the meeting with the intention of persuading the UNP leadership, ultimately to agree to the main critical portion of the PA's proposals.

The UNP leader Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe however told the TULF politicians that the Chandrika regime should, in order to make the package acceptable and legitimate in the eyes of the Tamil speaking people, negotiate its final form with the Liberation Tigers.

He also suggested to them that the PA and the UNP could work out a common set of proposals as a basis for initiating discussions with the LTTE.

The TULF delegation comprised Mr.Sampanthan, Dr. Neelan Thiruchelvam, the party leader Mr. M. Sivasithamparam, Mr. Anandasangari and Mr. Joseph Pararajasingham.

Mr. Wickremesinghe responded to Mr.Sampanthan's position at this meeting today that the UNP should extend its support to the Chandrika regime on the question of its devolution package, by pointing out the importance of bringing the LTTE into the peace process.

However Mr.Sampanthan, the general secretary of the TULF who is soon to become the new MP for Trincomalee, argued with Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe that his party should support the PA implement its devolution package even if the Liberation Tigers refuse to enter into a dialogue with Colombo on this matter.

But the UNP's team did not agree with Mr. Sampantan. It continued to emphasise the importance of a dialogue with the LTTE before finalising any aspect of the peace process.

That the UNP is playing for nothing but time and Tamil votes was obvious once more at this meeting. The UNP leader told the TULF delegation that he could not agree to the concept of island as a union of regions and that he could support only the temporary merger of the northern and eastern provinces which together form the traditional Tamil homeland.

"The PA, UNP and the TULF are playing sophisticated but ultimately meaningless games to promote their own self interests while we languish without a future or reason for hope in the harsh wilds of the Vanni" said an ex TULF general body member upon hearing some details of today's meeting.

The TULF politburo will meet tomorrow (Oct.5) morning to discuss the crucial parley they will be having in the evening with President Chandrika Kumaratunge.

Sources close to the TULF say that the party leadership might be divided on the question of going along with the President's current plan for placing the package in the legislature as a report of the Parliamentary Select Committee.

A section of the party which thinks that the PA's latest effort cannot be wholly trusted is planning to demand a dialogue between the government and the LTTE before the finalization of the devolution plan.

Meanwhile the EPDP chief Douglas Devananda and PLOTE leader Dharmalingam Sidarthan were summoned this morning by Prof.G.L Pieris, the Sri Lankan minister for Justice, constitutional affairs and national integration for a discussion on bringing the PA's devolution plan to Parliament.

The exercise, according to political observers in Colombo, is aimed at securing the acquiescence of the two ex Tamil groups when the PA places the watered down version of its devolution proposal in Parliament on time to convince Sri Lanka's aid consortium that the PA regime is genuinely keen for peace.


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