Sri Lankan President Wickremesinghe calls all-party meeting on Tamil issue

NewsDrum Desk
25 Jan 2023

Colombo, Jan 25 (PTI) Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe has convened an all-party meeting on Thursday to continue his efforts on achieving a consensus on the Tamil issue and strengthen national harmony.

Wickremesinghe in mid-December kicked off a process of dialogue with the main Tamil party - Tamil National Alliance (TNA) - as part of his declared resolve to secure an agreement on the broad contours of a settlement by Sri Lanka's Independence Day on February 4.

He has invited all parties for consultation with the aim of achieving a resolution to Tamil demand for political autonomy.

The all-party meeting is scheduled to be held on Thursday at the Presidential Secretariat with the participation of all party leaders representing the Parliament, under the patronage of President Wickremesinghe, a release from his office said Wednesday.

The purpose of this conference is to come to reach a consensus and strengthen national harmony, it said.

The Speaker, the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, as well as former Presidents Mahinda Rajapaksa and Maithripala Sirisena, Tamil National Alliance Leader R. Sampanthan, National People’s Force Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake, and all party leaders representing Parliament, have been invited.

"We will be attending the conference to highlight the issues of Tamils in the central hills (of Indian origin)," said Mano Ganesan, a Tamil political party leader.

Thursday's meeting assumes much significance in the light of last week's visit of External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, who had expressed India's wish to see the full implementation of the 13th Amendment in Sri Lanka. The minister had also underlined that New Delhi always supported political and economic stability in the island nation.

India has been pressing Sri Lanka to implement the 13th Amendment which was brought in after the Indo-Sri Lankan agreement of 1987. The 13A provides for the devolution of power to the Tamil community.

Full implementation of the 13th Amendment to Sri Lanka's Constitution will facilitate unity among all the communities in the island nation so that they could live as one.

Wickremesinghe had indicated to the TNA during previous rounds of talks that he would consider the full implementation of 13A with all party consensus.

The TNA is demanding the full implementation of the 13A to the Constitution, the release of all lands belonging to Tamils in the North and East occupied by the military or other government agencies and the release of all Tamil political prisoners.

At least five Tamil prisoners held under the prevention of terrorism Act without being charged were to be released, the Tamil party sources said.

The TNA with 10 MPs is the main political party representing the Sri Lankan Tamils of the North and East.

Earlier this month, the TNA had said that talks with President Wickremesinghe have made no progress and they will wait for the government's response for the next round of dialogue. PTI CORR ZH ZH

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