By Shamindra Ferdinando-May 1, 2017, 12:00 pm
UNP leader Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday said that Draft Constitutional Proposal for Sri Lanka could be taken up in the Constitutional Assembly within the next two or three months.
Premier Wickremesinghe said that a Steering Committee appointed by the Constitutional Assembly was in the process of preparing the Draft Constitutional Proposal.
The 20 member Steering Committee comprises members of all political parties represented in parliament.
The UNP leader was addressing an event held by the side of the statue of the late leader at Mihindu Mawatha near Hulftsdorp court complex with the participation of President Maithripala Sirisena to commemorate slain President Ranasinghe Premadasa.
The LTTE assassinated President Premadasa near Armour Street police station on May Day, 1993.
Premier Wickremesinghe said that the government would discuss the Draft Constitutional Proposal with the Buddhist clergy and other religious leaders as well as civil society organizations parallel to deliberations in the Constitutional Assembly.
The Draft Constitutional Proposal is based on the reports prepared by six Sub Committees also appointed by the Constitutional Assembly in respect of specified subject areas relevant to the making of a Constitution.
The UNP leader said that their intention was to reach a consensus after having discussed the Draft Constitutional Proposal with all stakeholders.
Commenting on the progress so far made in the constitutional making process, Premier Wickremesinghe said that discussions had been held with many stakeholders. The UNP leader said that ways and means of devolving power without dividing the country and safeguarding Sri Lanka’s unitary status had been discussed with Chief Ministers of Provincial Councils. In addition to that, human rights, electoral reforms, religious and foremost place for Buddhism had been discussed, Premier Wickremesinghe said.
Calling for public support to achieve genuine post-war national reconciliation, Premier Wickremesinghe said that creation of a national government under President Maithripala Sirisena’s leadership was meant for the above mentioned purpose.
Premier Wickremesinghe expressed confidence that the government could achieve national unity as President Premadasa once wanted during the current term of parliament.
President Premadasa’s unfortunate death occurred as he was participating in May Day procession, the PM said.
Referring to Sri Lanka co-sponsoring a US led resolution at the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council in March, 2017, Premier Wickremesinghe said that the international community had given Sri Lanka two years to achieve unity and national solution. Premier Wickremesinghe said the support of the international community was essential to resolve the national issue.
The Premier said they could move forward under the leadership of President Maithripala Sirisena though they faced daunting task at the onset of the new administration.
Commenting on President Premadasa’s style of governance, Wickremesinghe said the then UNP leader pursued a two-pronged strategy to address major issues confronting the country. President Premadasa had sought to provide equal opportunities to the poor and uplift their living standards. However, having realised that approach was insufficient, President Premadasa took measures to solve the ethnic issue. Recalling President Premadasa, too, had resorted to military operations to eradicate terrorism, Premier Wickremesinghe said, while underscoring the late leader’s efforts to reach consensus on political settlement against the backdrop of terrorism in the North as well as the South, simultaneously.
Premier Wickremesinghe recollected President Premadasa having talks with all stakeholders, including armed groups.
The LTTE quit direct negotiations with President Premadasa in June 1990 following 14 month long truce in the wake of the Indian Army pulling out of Sri Lanka.
Wickremesinghe pointed out that President Premadasa had been killed before the then Opposition lawmaker Mangala Moonesinghe presented his report on a political settlement. Premier Wickremesinghe dealt with Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga abortive bid to provide a political solution after her victory in August 1994, the UNP-led UNF regaining power in Dec 2001 leading to fresh round of talks with terrorists. When terrorists rejected that offer there was consensus that national unity should be achieved after eradicating terrorism.
Premier Wickremesinghe said the country couldn’t achieve peace though the war ended. Blaming the then leadership for failing to achieve post-war national reconciliation, Premier Wickremesinghe said that instead there was instability.
The Rajapaksa administration brought the war to a successful conclusion in May 2009.
Wickremesinghe alleged that the failure on the part of the then government to fulfill promises given to the international community isolated Sri Lanka.
He emphasized that the international support was required to resolve the domestic problem by way of a political solution acceptable to all.
The election of Maithripala Sirisena as the president at January 2015 presidential poll had paved the way for a fresh bid achieve genuine reconciliation, the PM said.
At the onset of his speech, Premier Wickremesinghe briefly discussed Premadasa’s role in the run up to 1977 general election and as the Prime Minister during JRJ presidency.