The Parliamentary Select Committee, and not “imported solutions”, is the best and democratic way to find a solution to the Tamil ethnic minority problem, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has said.

“It is the duty of all parties in the country to solve problems according to the people's wishes by participating in this Parliamentary Select Committee rather than relying on imported solutions and utilising foreign influences,” he said, addressing the nation at Anuradhapura on the occasion of the Sri Lankan Independence Day.

In attendance were a large posse of foreign diplomatic corps stationed in Colombo. The “imported solution” and “foreign influences” are references to the 13th Amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution, which is a direct product of the Indo-Lanka Accord of 1987.

India has been pushing both the government and the Tamil National Alliance, an umbrella group of Tamil political parties that constitutes the only credible representation of the Tamil people in the north, to hold talks and come up with a solution. The intransigence on the part of the Tamil National Alliance to join the PSC, unless it is given several guarantees, has effectively ended the talks.

Meandering talks

The talks, which began in January 2011, have meandered with the TNA and the government not agreeing on the crucial question of land and police powers to the provinces.

It appeared that the talks collapsed after key government representatives failed to turn up for a crucial round this January. The TNA has held that the shift of the talks to the PSC, after a year-long and fruitless negotiation between the TNA and the government, was yet another tactic to buy time.

The President said Sri Lanka believed the mechanism for solving the national question was the Parliamentary Select Committee. “We are engaged in the task of creating a stable peace and national unity after liberating the country from terrorism. This is not a task confined to one individual or a party. Remember, the country would not benefit by trying to please selfish groups who receive foreign funds. Similarly solutions cannot be obtained by implementing the proposals of extremist groups of whatever persuasion. What is required today is the formulation of policies based on a vision that is commonly applicable to the whole country,” he said.

The President said ethnic communities had no separate regions. “The entire country belongs to all ethnic communities.”

Recalling parts of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission report, he said the LLRC had stated that all were responsible for this problem. “All those who act according to their conscience should take heed of this statement Therefore, we have already started implementing what was in the Commission. The report was tabled in Parliament on December 17. Since then we have done a lot,” he said.

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