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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2557

Sri Lanka's opposition criticizes government for de-merging North and East

Munza Mushtaq – Reporting from Colombo

Colombo, 11 January, (Asiantribune.com): The government has come under severe flak for openly snubbing the 1987 Indo-Lanka agreement, following its decision to de-merge the North and East provinces beginning January 1st, this year.Tissa Attanayake: "The UNP's stand has always been that the future of the two provinces should be decided only by the masses through a referendum."Tissa Attanayake: "The UNP's stand has always been that the future of the two provinces should be decided only by the masses through a referendum."

Sri Lanka's main opposition, the United National Party (UNP) has termed the government's 'ad hoc' decision as unacceptable, 'simply because president Mahinda Rajapaksa's administration, has openly flaunted the basic principal of the Indo-Lanka accord by failing to abide by the clauses of this agreement.'

UNP's General Secretary Tissa Attanayake in an interview with the “Asian Tribune” emphasized that his party did not support the government's decision to de-merge the two provinces, which was suddenly made simply because of a Supreme Court ruling that the merger was illegal.

"The UNP's stand has always been that the future of the two provinces should be decided only by the masses through a referendum. The 1987 agreement signed between India and the then Sri Lankan President J. R. Jayewardene also clearly spelled out that the merger of the North and East provinces was a temporary measure. But the clauses clearly emphasized that if a decision was to be taken on the future of these two provinces, it should be decided by the (North and East) people through a referendum whether the two provinces should be merged or otherwise. So our stand too is that the government must abide by the clauses of the accord," Mr. Attanayake pointed out.

He was also of the opinion that the government's sudden move to de-merge the two provinces and appoint separate officials to the two provincial councils, was not a very 'smart' decision, as this decision by the government appeared to be a forceful act and may hamper any future peace prospects in the country.

Mr. Attanayake also pointed out that if the government was to take such ad hoc decisions, by openly ignoring the Indo-Lanka agreement, then instead of violating the accord, the 1987 agreement should be cancelled and after that the government can do anything it wants.

"But the government has not even annulled this agreement, but it is instead openly flaunting it," the UNP General Secretary added.

- Asian Tribune -

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