Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has said his government would like consensus among all Tamil political parties for a political solution to the ethnic conflict.

Talking to a delegation from the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association here, he said reconciliation needed a home grown solution and not one transported from elsewhere, even from Northern Ireland. “It must be based on our own experience.”

On the question of the provincial administration in the North, he said the priority would be local government elections due early next year and they would be followed with election to the Northern Provincial Council.

To a question from Lord Sheik (Conservative) on the progress of moves for devolution of power, Mr. Rajapaksa told the delegates that whatever solution arrived at must be one that is acceptable to the people.

“He was emphatic in stating that what the LTTE wanted could not be given. But any reasonable aspect of devolution, for which all parties have consensual agreement, can be granted by Parliament,” he said. The President said he would encourage all parties to come to a settlement, and that Parliament must finally decide, as there was the need for a 2/3 majority for any Constitutional change,” a statement issued by the President's Office quoted him as saying.

Mr. Rajapaksa said the people of the North need essentials like water, electricity, schools, health services and education. “There was a yearning for development among the Tamil people, asserting that there could be no development without peace and vice versa”.

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