|Saturday, 31 January 2004|
|Politics||Today's Top Story|
The UNF Government's disinformation campaign to hoodwink the people of this country and the international community by pretending it was willing to end the political impasse through a compromise, when in fact it was covertly insisting, at the consensus talks, popularly known as Mano-Malik talks, that the Defence portfolio with full powers including the Armed Forces should be handed back to the Prime Minister, has been exposed.
Political sources told the Daily News yesterday that all along, the UNF had no intention of settling the issue through a compromise, but in order to create the impression that it was willing to do so, senior members of the UNF have carried on a false propaganda campaign to deceive the public in an attempt to cover up its intransigence and obduracy in ending the impasse over the Defence portfolio.
The Mano-Malik talks have been kept alive all this time due to the unrelenting efforts of President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga.
The sources pointed out that while at the Mano-Malik talks turning down all offers of cohabitation made by the President to the Prime Minister and insisting on a return of the Defence portfolio with all powers, the UNF had tried to paint a different picture to the public that it was willing to reach a compromise solution.
an example of the hypocrisy of the Government with regard the Defence issue are the contradictory statements made by Cabinet spokesman G.L. Peiris at Thursday's Cabinet briefing when he said that the Government was willing to settle the issue without assuming overall defence powers while, in the same breath saying that the Government wanted powers similar to those enjoyed by the Prime Minister before the takeover of the Defence Ministry by the President on November 4, the source said.
they said that the President had walked that extra mile in order to form a working relationship with the UNF Government, but her efforts had been in vain, the UNF was not interested. They pointed out that the Government had rejected outright an offer by the President to form a national government rehabilitation and reconstruction.
It had rejected an offer to evolve joint program for a limited period on peace, good governance and corruption.
The UNF had also rejected an offer to create a Ministry of National Security or appoint a Minister Assisting the Defence Minister or a Member of Parliament nominated by the Prime Minister who can closely work with the President to be in charge of the peace process coordinated by the Norwegian facilitators and the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission, with powers related to matters concerning the peace process.
The observers said that the Constitution of Sri Lanka clearly vest the Defence portfolio with the President who is solely responsible for all defence matters and safeguarding the sovereignty and the security of the country.
This has been confirmed by the Supreme Court on two occasions - in the judgement on the 19th Amendment on the Constitution proposed by the present UNF Government and more recently in the judgement on the Article 129 (1) of the Constitution.
The Defence portfolio was under the executive President till the formation of the UNF Government in December 2001.
This was done at the insistence of the Prime Minister and in the interest of cohabitation. But despite, the Prime Minister's assurance that he would consult the President on all critical issues concerning on defence, he had not kept to this promise.
A glaring example was the signing of the Ceasefire Agreement by the Prime Minister, whereas constitutionally it should have signed by the President.
During the last 20 months the President has been constantly warning of the Government of real dangers to the national security.
Instructions to the Defence Minister to take necessary action were ignored. Gross negligence and dereliction of duty by the Defence Minister were numerous.
Produced by Lake House