By Sunday Times Political Editor
The proposed Parliamentary Select Committee would determine whether the 13th Amendment should be part of a settlement for Tamil grievances, President Mahinda Rajapaksa, has re-iterated.
He told the main opposition United National Party’s co-deputy leader Karu Jayasuriya on Friday that this was the UPFA government’s official position. He said the government wanted Parliament to come out with a settlement endorsed by all political parties.
President Rajapaksa’s remarks came when he met Jayasuriya when the two leaders attended the Higher Ordination Ceremony of the Sri Lanka Amarapura Nikaya (including all its 22 sectors) at the Kandana, Walpola Sri Wimalaratanarama Vidya Nivasa Pirivena. Among others who graced the ceremony were Prime Minister D.M. Jayaratne and Economic Development Deputy Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardane who is Secretary of the Dayake Sabha (Lay Trustees).
On Friday evening, Jayasuriya conveyed the details of his meeting with the President to his leader Ranil Wickremesinghe who is scheduled to visit the United States next week. He told Mr. Wickremesinghe that President Rajapaksa had invited the UNP to take part in the proposed Parliamentary Select Committee. The UNP’s main policy making body, the Working Committee is expected to take a decision on its participation in the Select Committee.
President Rajapaksa is learnt to have told Mr. Jayasuriya that he had already conveyed to India the UPFA government’s position that a settlement of whatever Tamil grievances would be determined by a Parliamentary Select Committee represented by all political parties. He had told Mr. Jayasuriya the three member Indian delegation that visited Sri Lanka had been informed of this position. The delegation comprised National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar.
The Sunday Times exclusively reported on June 3 that President Rajapaksa told the Indian delegation the government would not grant police or land powers to Provincial Councils. He told them the government was willing to discuss other subjects listed in the Concurrent List of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. Such a discussion would now take place in the proposed Parliamentary Select Committee.
Powers for North: TNA seeks written pledge
By Chris Kamalendran
The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) has demanded from the government a written pledge on devolution of powers explaining how much power it was ready to give to the Northern Province. The demand was made during talks with a government delegation aimed at finding a political solution to the issues in the Province.
TNA General Secretary Mavi Senadhiraja said the TNA delegation had told the government team the TNA had put forward 51 points and needed a written response. The government delegation informed the TNA it would also not be able to grant powers on coastal conservation and tax collection to the PC. Earlier the President had said he would not give police and land powers to the provinces.
During the talks, the TNA had declared that it was not agreeable to having a concurrent list where the Province and the central government have authority over certain subjects. Instead, the TNA wanted only two lists with powers to the province and the central government clearly defined. However the government delegation had not agreed to the proposal.
Government delegation member Rajiva Wijesinha said he could not comment on the talks and a joint statement would be issued. However no statement had been issued until last evening.
The next round of talks will be held on Wednesday.