APRC Chairman says:
Proposals firm foundation for new Constitution
The Chairman of the All Party Representative Committee (APRC)
Minister Prof. Tissa Vitharana yesterday asserted that maximum power
would be devolved to the North and East, in implementing the 13th
Amendment while maintaining the unitary framework of governance.
“This certainly would not be the final proposal and will not be a
universal panacea for all ills in the country. It will however be a firm
and reliable foundation to build and develop a new Constitution for the
Nation. It is a long-term process, requiring a step-by-step approach.
“We will strive to implement to the optimum, what we could, under the
existing Constitution and mechanism, amending it where necessary,”
Minister Vitharana said.
At a special media conference to brief journalists on the recent
developments regarding the APRC, he underscored the importance of the
outcome of the APRC draft proposals inked by 14 political parties which
had met on 63 sessions over 18 months to resolve the ethnic conflict.
He was of the view that on the determined and relentless efforts of
President Mahinda Rajapaksa to solve the national issue, an exemplary
and a new political culture had been created by the stakeholders of the
APRC, who had reached a 90 per cent consensus following lengthy
discussions for long hours, setting aside personal and petty political
gains for the sake of their Motherland.
He pointed out that some of the proposals need a two thirds majority
in Parliament for implementation and therefore would need the assistance
of the UNP too. The implementation of some of the proposals would need
the mandate of the people via a referendum.
Higher Education Minister Wishva Warnapala expressing his views
stated that the prime objective of the APRC proposals were to provide a
permanent and sustainable solution to the national issue, as envisioned
in the realistic ‘Mahinda Chintana’, protecting the sovereignty and the
territorial integrity of the country.
The discussions and deliberations which filled a verbatim report of
over 11,000 pages, could be considered as an intellectual property and
the initial phase of a Constitution which has to be built up gradually.
“It is a proposal which strives to give a quick and instant response
to the present political environment and burning issues in the North
East, via the existing 13th Amendment. It would be a prelude built-up in
an intellectual atmosphere, leading into a new Constitution. It is a
classic beginning to a long process. They are in no way solely SLFP
proposals as alleged by UNP Parliamentarian Lakshman Kiriella recently,”
He claimed that issuing statements and slogans were easy tasks for
certain political parties. Constructive criticism and the suggestions of
suitable solutions for the issues were not forthcoming from them.
He said that an Interim Council would be established to expedite
Eastern Development and to create a conducive environment to hold
elections there. An Advisory Council including regional leaders selected
and represented on a ethnic character, would be set-up to fulfil the
aspirations of the minorities.
Issues such as ‘language’ which had been overlooked in the past,
should be implemented to the very letter as per the 13th Amendment. EPDP
Representative Maheswari Veluwethan, JHU Representative Udaya Gammanpila
and several others also expressed their views.