PA and Tamil parties meet on new constitution

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 08 February 2000, 21:57 GMT]
Representatives of Tamil political parties represented in the Parliament would meet the government leaders on February 10 and 15 to sort out the question of merging northern and eastern provinces without a referendum being held, sources said.

This followed the meeting held earlier today between the Tamil parties and the government on other items in the proposed constitution.

According to political circles in Colombo, a contentious issue in formulating an acceptable draft constitution is the merger of northern and eastern provinces. This could pose a challenge to a consensus being reached between the Tamil parties and the government leaders led by President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge.

chanrika_kumarathunge_4-p.jpgThe Tamil parties want the two provinces are merged without a referendum being held in the east. But People's Alliance (PA) leaders are of the view that the Government must hold a referendum in the East to determine whether the people there would prefer to join with those in the Northern province or not.

The Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC), a powerful constituent party in the ruling PA alliance is agitating for a separate South Eastern Provincial Council with a Muslim majority.

Except the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF), all the other Tamil political parties want the entire Northern and Eastern province merged into one entity. The TULF has already reached a consensus with the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress in carving out a separate Muslim dominated South Eastern Provincial Council.

Another important matter discussed at today's meeting between the Tamil party representatives and the Government leaders was the name of the country and the nature of the State.

In the proposed constitution the country is referred to as the indivisible Union of Regions within the United States of Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. A consensus was reached between the Tamil political parties and the Government on the nature of the State during the meeting today.

Apart from the nature of the state, another point on which a consensus was achieved was the appointment of Governors to the Regions.

According to a draft document tabled at today's meeting, the Governor shall be appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister who shall tender such advice in consultation with the Chief Minister of the Region.

After discussion, it was agreed to change the wording as follows: The Governor shall be appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister who shall tender such advice after due consideration with the Chief Minister of the Region.

The original proposal was for the Governor to be approved by the President on the advice of the Chief Minister.

The representatives of the Tamil political parties participated at today's conference with the Government leaders are given below: Tamil United Liberation Front: Secretary General R. Sampanthan, Vice President V. Anandasangari Eelam Peoples Democratic Party; Secretary General Douglas Devananda, Advisor Dr. K. Vigneswaran People Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam: Secretary General D. Siththarthan Tamil Eelam Liberation Organization: Secretary General V. Adaikalanathan Advisor N. Sri Kantha.

 

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