State Minister Suren Raghavan says there was a conflict of opinions among the Tamil political parties during the all-party conference chaired by President Ranil Wickremesinghe on Wednesday (July 26).
The conference was organized to update the parliament’s political party leaders on the National Reconciliation Program and the North-East Development Plan. All political parties with representation in the parliament except the National People’s Power (NPP) were in attendance.
Commenting on the meeting, Raghavan said the Tamil political party leaders did not have a common consensus about what they truly want.
According to the lawmaker, MPs M.A. Sumanthiran, C. V. Vigneswaran and other Tamil parliamentarians were of conflicting opinions about the 13 Amendment to the Constitution, local government elections and devolution of power to the Tamil community.
Urging Tamil political party members to reach common ground soon, the state minister underscored the importance of unity if the country is to ride out the crisis.
A multitude of problems facing both the North and South stand to be resolved once the economy recovers, he pointed out.
Hinting at another all-party conference next month, Raghavan expressed hopes about reaching a more clear and consensual position there.
During the course of the all-party conference convened at the Presidential Secretariat, President Wickremesinghe highlighted the significance of discussing the 13th constitutional amendment with all parties, as it is a matter that affects the entire country.
The Head of State, noting that seven out of the nine provincial councils are located in areas with a majority of Sinhalese, said if the provincial council system were to be maintained, the shortcomings that had already been experienced should be addressed first.
President Wickremesinghe recalled that neither he nor the previous seven Executive Presidents had the authority to pass new laws to address existing problems; that power rested solely with the Parliament.
He asserted that he was bringing forth relevant proposals for the betterment of the country, but the responsibility of implementing them lay with all the representatives in the Parliament, as he alone couldn’t achieve it with his single vote.
Meanwhile, main opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) general secretary, MP Ranjith Madduma Bandara alleged that the government is in an attempt to postpone the local government elections by misleading the general public.
Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) general secretary Sagara Kariyawasam said the President should take notes from the past when searching for answers to issues such as the 13th constitutional amendment.
The general secretary of Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), MP Dayasiri Jayasekara said the government MPs have no common consensus about the 13th constitutional amendment, while Tamil National Alliance MP Sumanthiran rejected the solution proposed by the President with regard to the much-talked-about constitutional amendment.