'War imminent if federal solution is rejected'- Minister Peiris

[TamilNet, Monday, 09 December 2002, 18:39 GMT]
The United National Front (UNF) government Monday said if the attempt to find a political solution to the ethnic conflict through a federal constitution is rejected then there is high likelihood of war breaking out again. "Instead of amending the clauses of the present constitution, the government has decided to table a new constitution that will embody the new political framework," said Professor G.L.Peiris, Minister of Constitutional Affairs and cabinet spokesman at a press briefing Monday in Colombo.

"Federal system is not something new in Sri Lanka. It was originally intended not for the Tamils but for the upcountry Sinhalese people. Bandaranaike-Chelvanayakam pact and Dudley Senanayake-Chelvanayakam pact also mentioned political solution based on the federal system. The focus on the 2000 Draft Constitution presented in parliament by the Peoples Alliance (PA) government and the proposals included in the white paper of the PA government in 1995 were based on the federal principle," said Minister Peiris who played a lead role in the preparation of these two constitutional documents under the PA regime.

Minister Peiris said that the agreement reached in Oslo recently between the UNF government and the LTTE for a federal system is only an initial step.

"The major breakthrough in the Oslo talks is the expression of the Liberation Tigers of its willingness to accept a federal system in a united country. LTTE's stand clearly indicates that it has moved away from the concept of a separate state. In a federal system powers would be devolved according to the constitution," Minister Peiris said.

The UNF government is prepared to face a new general election. "A general election would enable the UNF to secure more seats with a comfortable majority in parliament," said Minister Peiris in reply to a question.

Special attention will be focused on human rightsí issues at the next round of talks scheduled to be held in Thailand from 6th January to 9th between the UNF government and the LTTE, replied Professor Peiris to another query.


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