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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2648

UNP abandons federalism and Ceasefire Agreement; it’s a trick to win power, says JVP

H. L. D. Mahindapala

Sri Lankan media reports today highlighted the new shift in the UNP on two major issues: 1. abandoning its support for a federalist solution and 2.abrogating the Ceasefire Agreement signed by its leader Ranil Wickremesinghe on February 22, 2002.

Lankadeepa,the leading Sinhala newspaper very close to Wickremesinghe, broke the story yesterday indicating a dramatic policy shift which, if true, can lead to a political consensus in the south at last.

Today’s Island reported that the UNP parliamentarian and Colombo District leader Ravi Karunanayake had confirmed the story. He had described the policy shift as the UNP “repositioning” itself.

However, Karunanayake added that this decision has not been ratified or even discussed at the UNP Political Affairs Committee or the Working Committee as yet. According to him the policy shift is under serious consideration. Ranil Wickremesinghe had proposed the change at the commemoration of the 101st birth anniversary of J. R. Jayewardene held last week.

Political observers note that there is wide spread support for this policy shift within the UNP. They argue that even the Marxist left which went down this federalist track reverted and drafted the Republic Constitution which affirmed the unitary state. If, as stated by the UNP now, they never were for federalism then the avenues are opened for the left, right and centre to agree on a common constitutional agenda.

The Island reported: “The UNP yesterday said it had never proposed Federalism as a solution to the national issue. It was for devolution of power to the maximum possible level while protecting the rights of all ethnic groups, Colombo District UNP Parliamentarian Ravi Karunanayake told a press conference at the office of the Leader of the Opposition. It was vital to find a political solution to the problem in the North and East without conceding even an inch of land to the LTTE, he stressed.

"We had never come to an agreement with the LTTE or any other party to go for a Federal solution and the UNP had never accepted or proposed a Federal solution to the problem of the North and East. It was only a creation by the media and not by us," he said. "Our party stands for maximum devolution of power and when the Ceasefire Agreement was signed by the UNP government of 2001 we did not have a Federal solution in mind, but only a mode of maximum devolution of power to solve the problem," he said.

“He said the UNP was always prepared to amend the CFA or to go for any change within these ambits to arrive at a solution to the problem. The UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe had briefed the diplomatic community on the ethnic issue,” he said.

The discordant note, challenging this news came from the JVP Propaganda Secretary Wimal Weerawansa. He says that the United National Party is saying that they have changed their stand on National question with the narrow objective of coming back to power.

He said that the UNP is slyly looking forward to the votes of the 37 JVP parliamentarians to use them for their strategic shortcuts. It is for this reason saying that they have changed their stand in respect of the national question. In reality there has been no change at all.

UNP has nowhere pledged that they will protect the unitary state. will bring about within the unitary state. With no they would step down from the Federal concept is only a disguise he said.

In further comments Mr. Weerawansa said "We see that the UNP is playing a bogus role stripping off one or two of the clothes with the intention of putting on a new clothe with more attire once they come to power" we don't believe that the UNP will be able to mislead the people by their bogus role. We challenge the UNP to issue an statement whether they will accept the unitary state concept the unitary state or discord the unitary state policy, playing a from the issue in question is only a disguise, he said.

- Asian Tribune -

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