Leader of the Opposition and Tamil National Alliance Leader R. Sampanthan who met with visiting UK Minister of State for Asia and Pacific Mark Field called for a merger of North and East provinces citing ‘the two provinces largely represent Tamil majority’ adding that the constitution will provide for the protection preventing separation.
“The majority Sinhala community need not be afraid of the merger of these two provinces as there will be a Constitutional protection preventing any move towards separation.
The power-sharing arrangements will be worked out within a United, Undivided and Indivisible Sri Lanka, Sampanthan pointed out to the Minister.
The Opposition Leader further said “we are seeking an arrangement that will enable people to exercise powers related to their social, cultural, economic, and political matters based on the principle of sovereignty of the people as citizens of this country. But this power should not be taken back in anyway”.
The Opposition Leader who met the Minister at Westminster House in Colombo elaborated on the political situation in the country adding that the TNA has genuinely participated in the process of framing a new constitution.
“From 1957 onwards there had been various attempts made to recognise the pluralism in this country, but unfortunately, none of those efforts came to be realized,” he said. “The need for a power sharing arrangement has been in discussion over 30 years since 1957. Only in 1987 with the involvement of Indian Government for the very first time a power sharing arrangement was recognised in the constitution of this country. From that time, onwards steps were taken by every successive Government to address the National question and evolve a final solution,” he added.
Framing a new Constitution is an important task in finding a resolution to the national questionSampanthan said adding that failure would result in a recurrence of violence.
Speaking of the consequences of violence in the past, Sampanthan said, “fifty percent of the Sri Lankan Tamils live outside the country” and if we don’t find a lasting solution more people will leave the country he cautioned.
Answering a question regarding the role of the diaspora members, Sampanthan said that the Diaspora is adopting a pragmatic approach, they too would like to see an acceptable resolution to this issue.
Sampanthan highlighted the importance of the role of the International community at this juncture and said “that the United Kingdom must take all efforts to support these processes to see a positive end” and also to ensure that the Government of Sri Lanka delivers on urgent matters like release of private lands, issue of Missing Persons and Political Prisoners.”
The British Minister assured the TNA Leader of the constructive engagement of the UK government and wished the TNA leader all success for all his efforts in framing a new Constitution.
Britiah High Commissioner to Sri Lanka James Dauris and other High Commission officials were present at the meeting.