|Monday, 05 November 2001|
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National question and the UNP
UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, addressing an election rally has said the UNP, when it comes to power would seek a negotiated settlement to the ethnic question. To this end his government would hold talks with the LTTE, he has added.
This is good. As Mr. Wickremesinghe has himself admitted the President has also said the same. What more, she has been saying it ever since she came to power in 1994.
The UNP has been in power for 17 long years since 1977. It had a five-sixth majority in 1977. Yet it failed to reach a negotiated settlement.
In fact, its then leader J.R. Jayewardene once told the Tamil community in threatening language he is ready for war. He sent his trusted Commander to Jaffna to wipe out the terrorist menace in three months.
In 1983, it organized the most despicable pogrom against the Tamils which in turn gave a fresh impetus to the military struggle against the state.
Even the Indo-Lanka Accord, signed under duress could not proceed due to sabotage by the UNP government. The 13th Amendment to the Constitution was never implemented in good faith.
The PA government, on the other hand, initiated talks with the Tigers. Even after the talks were torpedoed by the LTTE, it came out with a set of proposals to devolve power as a means of arriving at a negotiated solution.
The only reason why it could not bring in legislation to implement the proposals was the stubborn refusal of the UNP to support the government's effort.
At the Parliamentary Select Committee on the Reform of the Constitution the UNP agreed to many secondary issues but never gave its opinion on key issues of police powers, the nature of the state, land alienation and devolution of power.
During the Second term of the Presidency, the PA and UNP held extensive talks and agreed to a new Constitution. Unfortunately it was sabotaged by the UNP at the last stage.
Now that the UNP hopes to come to power at the election and to hold talks with the LTTE, it has a duty by the people to inform them of the likely proposals that it would be presenting to the LTTE.
Transparency is a measure of sincerity. Knowing the bad track record of the UNP on the issue, people would only be keen to know the UNP solution before they cast their vote on December 5.
Produced by Lake House