Unit of devolution revealed

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 08 October 1997, 23:59 GMT]
The Sri Lankan government today officially presented to the Parliamentary Select Committee for the first time its position on the unit of devolution it is proposing to grant the Tamil and Muslim people.

The Select Committee gathered this afternoon at the Parliament complex in Jayawardenepura , amidst much expectation and speculation in the media and political and diplomatic circles in Colombo.

Prof. G.L Pieris informed the Committee about the PA's plan to hold a referendum in the Trincomalee and Batticaloa districts.

Some members of the Committee who had come to know about the referendum through the press were a bit surprised to hear the key clause to the PA's plan for the east.

If, according to Prof. G.L, the result of the referendum were to favour a merger with the north, then it would automatically, under this scheme, lead to the establishment of a Muslim dominated Southeastern council.

The Sinhala part of the Ampara district would be given the option of deciding whether it was going to join the Uva province or not. If, on the other hand, the Prof. informed the Committee, the vote was in the negative then the eastern province would remain a separate territorial unit.

Former UNP foreign minister Mr.A.C.S Hameed, told the Committee that everyone in the eastern province should be afforded the opportunity to decide whether they wanted to keep the east as a separate entity or wanted to merge with the north.

A referendum should be for the whole of the east not parts of it he said. Prof.G.L acknowledged to the UNP in that the Tamil parties had "reservations" on the proposal.

The Sri Lankan Minister for Health Mr.Nimal Siripala de Silva suggested that the UNP and the PA should agree on a solution and then talk to the Tamil parties.

The suggestion was completely ignored, coming at a time when a commission appointed by the PA has held former UNP leader Premadasa responsible for murder.

The UNP informed the Parliamentary Select Committee that since this was the first official intimation of the PA's stand on the unit of devolution to them (the UNP) they will have to discuss it further.

Meanwhile a proposal form an independent elections commission was submitted to the Committee by Sri Lanka's opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe in a letter sent to its chairman.

A nonchalant Tamil politician in Parliament said "there is nothing to hope for in any of this, but G.L still retains some ability, despite his sagging morale, to keep the 'devolution show' going".


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