SC's NorthEast merger verdict stands- SL Prime Minister

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 08 November 2006, 11:09 GMT]
The Government will never act, and has no power to act against the ruling of the Supreme Court (SC) that the merger of North and East Provinces was illegal, Ratnasiri Wickramanayake, the Sri Lankan Premier and Deputy Minister of Defense announced in the Parliament Tuesday while submitting a special report explaining Sri Lankan Government's stand on the issue, parliamentary sources said.

Ratnasiri Wickremanayake, Sri Lankan Prime Minister
Excerpts from Premier's speech follow:

"The North and East provinces were temporarily merged in 1987 in compliance with the Indo Sri Lanka Peace Accord. The Sri Lankan Parliament should have endorsed the decision and merged both Provinces permanently under Article 154 of the Constitution. According to the Peace Accord, the terrorists and armed groups should have surrendered their weapons and entered the mainstream politics. Nevertheless, that did not take place and on the contrary, killings and anti-democratic activities continued. As a result, a non-conducive atmosphere prevailed to submit the bill in the Parliament and get endorsement.

"Based on these facts, the High Court too gave a verdict and cancelled the merger. The Government will never act against this verdict. Neither the Government nor terrorists can merge North and East. The merger should be done with the consultation of the people of East in a referendum.

"The terrorists also violated the Cease Fire Agreement reached in 2002 when Mrs. Chandrika Kumaratunge was Sri Lanka's President.

"As the North and East Provinces remained merged so far, the rights of voting and other democratic rights of the people of East were denied. The de-merger restored their rights.

"The Government suggests three mechanisms to administer the North and East provinces. Firstly, de- merges both provinces and administer as a single unit. Secondly, submit a Bill in Parliament in compliance with Article 154 of the Constitution to decide either to administer both provinces together or separately. Thirdly, Parliament should decide the reasons for merging two or more provinces together when necessity arises," said Mr Wickramanayake.

At the conclusion of the speech, Wimal Weeravanse, JVP Parliamentarian, questioned the Premier whether North and East are to be administered separately in the light of the verdict of the Supreme Court.

The Premier said that both the provinces were administered separately at present and actions were underway to divide the provincial head office based in Trincomalee.


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