(Press Release/18 July 2018)
The Visiting Belgium-Sri Lanka Parliamentary Friendship Group met with the Leader of the Opposition and the Tamil National Alliance today at the office of the Leader of the opposition in parliament.
Briefing the delegation Mr Sampanthan highlighted that the present Sri Lankan Constitution is not enacted based on consensus. The processes of enacting a new Constitution which recognizes the multi-ethnicity and pluralistic nature of this country has begun and the draft Constitution will be placed before the steering committee on this Wednesday. Further speaking Mr Sampanthan said that he wants the processes to succeed and there are opportunities for this process to succeed and we should take maximum use of the prevailing circumstances to find a permanent solution to this longstanding national question.
Mr Sampanthan stressed that the new Constitution must be adopted before the end of this year to take this country on a new journey. Further, he said that the country is faced with a choice either to take the country forward or to drag the country backwards. If they want the country to move forward in every aspect then it is inevitable that they adopt a new Constitution he said.
Speaking on the reconciliation process, Mr Sampanthan highlighted that the people are not happy as they do not receive early relief for their problems. He brought to the notice of the delegation of a number of issues faced by the Tamil people in the North and East. Highlighting the large extent of lands occupied by the armed forces Mr Sampanthan said People have lived in these lands for generations and centuries and they want their lands back, but the progress in this matter has been very slow.
On the issue of Missing persons, Mr Sampanthan said people want to know as to what has happened to their loved ones and people cannot live in uncertainty forever. The truth must be ascertained said Mr Sampanthan. Our people are staging a protest for a number of months regarding these matters, but the progress made in these matters are not up to the expectations.
Appreciating the EU role in the past Mr Sampanthan appealed to the delegation to impress upon the government to take the necessary steps to cure its ways to prevent adverse impacts on its people in the future.
The Delegation led by Hon (Prof) Ms Petra De Sutter, Senator, President of the Belgium – Sri Lanka Parliamentary Friendship Group comprised of Hon Ms Ozlem Ozen, Member of the House, Vice President of the Belgium – Sri Lanka Parliamentary Friendship Group, Hon. Georges Dallemagne, Member of the House, Vice President of the Belgium – Sri Lanka Parliamentary Friendship Group, Hon. Alain Destexhe Senator, Member of the Belgium – Sri Lanka Parliamentary Friendship Group, hon Andries Gryffroy Senator, Member of the Belgium – Sri Lanka Parliamentary Friendship Group, Mr Marc Jolling, Secretary of the Inter-Parliamentary Union Office in the Belgium Federal Parliament, and the Belgium Ambassador to Sri Lanka His Excellency Jan Luykx.