(Mangala Samaraweera speaking at the APC, round 2)
All Party Conference (APC) on the implementation of Geneva resolution has not been able to come to any agreement on core issues, reports published by Colombo media indicates. According to Daily Mirror common grounds has been found for ‘matters such as the implementation of the recommendations by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission(LLRC), addressing livelihood issues in the war ravaged areas and schemes for the benefits of war widows’ only.
Pro Rajapaksa smaller parties as well as JVP has opposed the participation of foreign judges in a domestic mechanism. Another notable development is that Prime Minister Wickremasinghe’s absence of the APC and that he has sent a low profile Minister, Sagala Rathnayaka to represent him.
The Daily Mirror report is reproduced below
President Sirisena called for the second meeting of the All Party Conference (APC) on Tuesday (17th) evening to discuss the way forward for the resolution of political questions and to bring about reconciliation.
The respective political parties had submitted their individual proposals to be considered in this respect. Eastern Province Governor Austin Fernando had incorporated these proposals by each party, highlighting the submissions acceptable to all, and drawing attention to areas with differences.
Common ground was found on matters such as the implementation of the recommendations by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission(LLRC), addressing livelihood issues in the war ravaged areas and schemes for the benefits of war widows.
Communist Party (CP) representative D.E. W. Gunasekara asked for action without delay on commonly acceptable matters, through the Cabinet rather than wasting time.
Dinesh and Mangala clash in APC
Foreign Affairs Minister Mangala Samaraweera also briefed the political party representatives for around ten minutes, with particular focus on the substance of the UNHRC resolution on Sri Lanka and the procedure on follow up action. After the minister’s remarks, Mahajana Eksath Peramuna (MEP) Leader Dinesh Gunawardene struck a note of criticism for not presenting the reports of the Udalagama and Paranagama Commissions to the UNHRC for lobbying against international interferences, rather than relying solely on the report by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
Samaraweera hit back saying the contents of these two locally produced reports were far more serious than those in the OHCHR report. Nevertheless, Gunawardene , who is in the forefront in the campaign against the UNHRC resolution, retorted saying ,no matter what , these were locally produced reports based on the ground realties, but the OHCHR had compiled its reports based on hearsay and evidence gathered from anonymous sources.
A verbal duel ensued between them on the matter at hand for a while. President Sirisena also allowed Gunawardene to take his time and put forth his views.
Along with MEP, CP and Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP) expressed their vehement opposition to the proposal to involve foreign judges in the process.
Likewise, Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), represented by MP Vijitha Herath , was opposed to the participation of foreign judges.
The meeting looked somewhat low profile due to the absence of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. Yet, he was represented by Minister Sagala Ratnayake.
MP M.A. Sumanthiran, who represented the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), enraged other participants when he said that the implementation of the provisions of the UNHRC resolution virtually became the policy of the government as a co-sponsor of it.
LSSP representative Prof. Tissa Vitarana protested this position, and said the consultation process with the other parties would not serve the intended purpose if that were the case
President Maithripala Sirisena says every action in relevant to Geneva Proposals will be taken in accordance with the Constitution of Sri Lanka.
The President was speaking at the second phase of the all party meeting held today (Nov. 17) at the Presidential Secretariat.
He said the all party meeting will be held according to a fixed agenda and time frame in the future. In accordance with the agreement of the meeting, he instructed to give Sinhala, English and Tamil translations of the proposals of each political party to the parties attended in the meeting, fulfilling the request made by them at the first all party meeting.
The President also instructed to appoint a committee to take ideas, based on the mechanisms of truth seeking, accountability, reparation and enforcing of laws.
According to the decisions taken at the first all party committee, 12 proposals have been presented by the political parties.
The President stated that the government will sensitively consider these proposals, concerning of the common agreements as well as common objections to make this all party meeting successful. He pointed out this opportunity is a new experience to everybody including the government, politicians and public servants. He said these issues should be solved in a manner that the dignity of the country is safeguarded.
Leader of the Sri Lanka Communist Party Mr. Dew Gunasekara pointed out the agreeable ideas should be adopted in parliament and come agreement on disagreeable areas.
Mr. Dinesh Gunawardena, leader of the Mahajana Eksath Peramuna pointed out it is important to personally study every proposal presented by each party, by the President. He said these discussions should not be done with an idea that the only thing which is remaining is implementation of the human rights reports by the United Nations. He said the proposals on hybrid court violate the constitution of Sri Lanka. He emphasized that there are facts in Geneva Proposals which not acceptable to us.
The leader of Sri Lanka Samasamaja Party Mr. Thissa Witharana said he has three years experience in organizing all party committees. He said it should give an opportunity for every party to express their independent ideas, and also every decision should be taken according to the discussions at the all party meeting.
The President then stated this all party meeting is a free platform for everybody to express their ideas.
Mr. Senthil Thondaman, leader of the Sri Lanka Labour Congress stated that the Tamil people have confidence over the President’s accountability to make the all party discussions successful. He said it is seen in his intervention to free political prisoners. He added that the minor communities have confidence that the all party discussions will be practically implemented.
The leader of the Democratic Front Mr. Sarath Fonseka said the proposals of this new government should not be similar to the agenda of the former government. He pointed out we should learn from previous mistakes when entering into a new journey.
Mr. Mono Ganeshan, leader of the Democratic People’s Front pointed out the interest shown by the political parties on Geneva Proposals should be proceeded for the solution of ethnic problem. He said nobody wants to create a separate country but everybody should acknowledge this as a multi-racial and multi-religious country. He also pointed out the importance of understanding the problem that the people in the North think the North is their’s and the people in the south think that the entire country is of them.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Mangala Samaraweera stated that the 20 facts related to the proposals should be studied separately. He said the political parties should express their likes and dislikes for each issue.
Mr. Vijitha Herath, JVP Member of Parliament said solutions should be found within a local frame. He stated the government should explain to the people about the discourse on this intervention.
Mr. Amir Ali, All Island People’s Congress Member of Parliament said the time frame of the investigations about the human rights violations should go back to 1985.
Leader of Democratic People’s Liberation Front D. Siddharthan said the government has responsibility to cure the hearts of the Tamil people. They have confidence over President’s commitment of the President on this regard.