Unconditional talks, within unitary state

[TamilNet, Saturday, 29 August 1998, 18:49 GMT]
The leader of Sri Lanka's main opposition party Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe told the Jaffna weekly Sanjeevi in an extensive interview published in the paper today that his party, the UNP, is prepared to hold unconditional talks with the Liberation Tigers if it comes to power.

However, he said that the UNP envisaged a solution to Sri Lanka's ethnic conflict within the framework of the provincial council system of devolution and within a unitary state.

Both the Liberation Tigers and other Tamil political parties have rejected the provincial councils as an inadequate system of devolution.

They have also, along with a number of Sinhala moderates and intellectuals, pointed out that no form of adequate regional autonomy is possible under the unitary state.

Sri Lanka's constitution defines it as a unitary state and expressly prohibits the Parliament from sharing its legislative sovereignty with any other body.

Political observers in Colombo said this evening that Mr. Wickremesinghe's position that his party will hold unconditional talks with the Liberation Tigers is obviously aimed at wooing Tamil votes while his stand on the question of devolution is for keeping the Sinhala hardline vote on his side.

The opposition leader told the Sanjeevi that the government is prosecuting the war for political gain.

The Sanjeevi is the Saturday edition of Jaffna's daily Uthyan.

 

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