Calling upon the Sri Lankan government to “meaningfully define and state” its stand on devolution to the Northern Province, and citing the lack of progress in its talks with the government, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) has announced a suspension of talks with the government on arriving at a political solution to the Tamil question.
The government responded by saying that the TNA's demand, taken in combination, encompasses almost the entirety of the issues involved in the discussion between the SLFP, the main political party of the government and the TNA. “It is certainly not possible, nor is it consistent with the national interest to make a final pronouncement on all these crucial issues, hastily and without wider consultation, at this stage,” it added.
The announcement came at the end of the 10th round of talks with the government here on Thursday.
“TNA placed before the government delegation discussion papers setting out proposals in regard to the structure of governance, the division of subjects and functions between the Centre and the devolved units, fiscal and financial powers and other matters relevant to the achievement of an acceptable and durable political solution. The TNA invited the government's response to these proposals and despite the government's commitment to so respond, no response has been forthcoming for several months,” TNA leader M.A. Sumathiran said in a release.
“Consequently, no meaningful or purposeful discussion could be had on the discussion papers tendered by the TNA. This, we regret to state, was clearly demonstrative of the lack of a genuine commitment on the part of the government to the evolution of an acceptable political solution. While attempting to show the world that the government was engaged in a political process as an integral part of reconciliation, what the government was really engaged in was no more than a mere facade. It is in these circumstances that the TNA questioned the continuance of such a deceitful process,” he said.
In response, Sajin Vass Gunewardane, MP and Secretary of the Committee said that the government had made every effort to discuss these complex issues. “We do not think that the ultimatum delivered to the government by the TNA, which tantamount to the attitude portrayed by the LTTE, is at all helpful or constructive for the purpose of carrying forward in a structured and methodical way a process which can reach a positive outcome only if it has the widest possible support among the public. It is this objective which the government has tried to achieve in its sustained discussions with varying shades of political opinion during the last few months.
“As much as the SLFP does not solely represent any community in particular, the TNA also does not solely represent the Tamil community. In the circumstances, which have now arisen on account of the demarche of the TNA, the government will proceed with the appointment of a Parliamentary Select Committee. This is the appropriate forum for a discussion in which all the representatives of the people can participate with a view to identifying the constitutional reforms,” he said.