30th July 2000
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Cabinet colleagues of the late Dharmasiri Senanayake
By Dilrukshi Handunnetti and S.S. SelvanayagamPresident Chandrika Kumaratunga has indicated that she is prepared to revert to the 1997 proposals on constitutional reforms if she fails to obtain the UNP's support for the latest proposals.
The move is seen seen as her willingness to abandon the months-long PA-UNP consensus talks on constitutional reforms in favour of the Tamil parties which have dismissed the present proposals as a much watered down version of the 1997 proposals. The 1997 constitutional proposals includes wider regional devolution, especially in crucial areas such as land, police force, public service etc.
The President who returned from Britain met TULF General Secretary R. Sampanthan and PLOTE leader Dharmalingam Siddharthan separately at Temple Trees on Friday night and informed them about her willingness to revert to the original proposals..
Mr. Siddharthan told The Sunday Times president Kumaratunga said that she was ready to go back to the 1997 package with some changes as the UNP had indicated that it would not support the reforms on which the two major parties came to a consensus recently.
President Kumaratunga is likely to meet an EPDP delegation tomorrow in a continuing bid to win the support of Tamil parties in the face of growing opposition from the UNP and other groups.
The move came as the President got ready to place the reforms before the cabinet on Wednesday for approval amidst differences of opinion among ministers and growing opposition from the Maha Sangha and others regarding the timing of the presentation to parliament.
Meanwhile, all ministers and MPs on foreign trips have been told to return immediately as the government prepared for developments in the next three crucial weeks before the dissolution of parliament.
Some ministers are urging President Kumaratunga to heed the call of the Maha Sangha and discuss the proposals fully with them and others before they are presented to parliament.
A senior minister said it was essential to give due recognition to the Maha Sangha, and not to alienate them by rushing through constitutional reforms.
He said he and some other ministers believed it would be suicidal to alienate the majority just to appease the minorities on the eve of an election.
He claimed upto 20 government MPs were opposed to any rushing of the proposed reforms.
He said these MPs were collecting signatures urging the President to reconsider the process.
The proposed reforms are now being printed as a special Gazette notification. Parliamentary sources said the legislation was to be introduced as an urgent bill in the national interest.
They said the Parliamentary Order Paper for August was still not printed due to the uncertainty and confusion over what was to be presented. Generally the Order Paper is ready two weeks ahead.
Minister Alavi Moulana told The Sunday Times the government would not ride rough- shod over the people and every effort would be made to reach the widest possible consensus on the reforms.
The main Opposition UNP at a joint meeting of its working committee and parliamentary group on Thursday decided the party would not support the proposed reforms if they were rushed through before the dissolution of parliament and without a full discussion with the Maha Sangha and others.
But PA constituent parties are urging the president to go ahead with the proposals.
Minister and LSSP Leader Batty Weerakoon and CP leader Raja Collure said the Government must go ahead in presenting the proposals in parliament with or without the support of the UNP.
SLMC secretary Rauf Hakeem said there must be no more feet dragging and the government should go ahead in presenting the reforms to parliament.
By M. JaufferA bomb exploded about 200 metres from a stage where Minister M. H. M. Ashraff was addressing a meeting at Akkaraipattu on Friday night, but the minister was unhurt.
Police said the bomb placed in a motorcycle exploded near the Akkaraipattu hospital premises soon after Mr. Ashraff finished his speech at a ceremony to mark the upgrading of the hospital. One person was injured and the meeting was thrown into panic and confusion with the minister being escorted out under heavy guard. The area had been placed under heavy security during Mr. Ashraff's visit.
By Shelani de SilvaAmidst growing uncertainty over when or whether the government will present the constitutional reforms package in parliament, the Maha Sangha and others are keeping up the pressure against the proposals.
At a convention to be held on Tuesday, the Maha Sangha is expected to pass a resolution calling for a full and open debate on the reforms, especially among the Sinhala people, before they are presented to parliament.
Another resolution to be moved at the convention calls for Major General Janaka Perera and Major General Sarath Fonseka to be sent back immediately to Jaffna to lead the troops in the war there.
The resolution says the transfer of these two officers to Colombo recently was intended to weaken the war effort under pressure from foreign countries and other parties.
The convention to be held at the NYSC auditorium in Maharagama is expected to be attended by 3,000 monks from all parts of the country, organisers said.
The Sangha has called on both the PA and the UNP to place the proposed reforms before the people at the upcoming general elections and get a mandate before presenting them in parliament.
By Our Diplomatic EditorBritain has become the first western country to enact legislation to proscribe terrorist organisations that commit offences outside its jurisdiction with the Queen reportedly giving her Royal Assent to the UK Terrorism Act 2000 this week.
The laws will be, the Sri Lankan Government hopes, the precursor to the British Government banning the LTTE in that country.
The new laws could be a major blow to the LTTE which has for years used London as its overseas headquarters from where it has run a successful propaganda campaign for a separate state in North and East of Sri Lanka.
The British Government had come in for mounting criticism for harbouring LTTE activists in that country, and permitting its soil to be used to bring death and destruction to a fellow Commonwealth country.
So far it is India and Malaysia that have banned the LTTE while the US has declared it as a terrorist organisation.
Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar was in London this week to urge the British Foreign Office to consider banning the LTTE under the new law. He followed India's Home Minister L.K. Advani who was there a fortnight ago to urge the banning of terrorist organisations active in Kashmir.
Mr. Kadiragamar told The Sunday Times last night that Britain had adopted a comprehensive law on terrorism which closely follows the two recent UN conventions on terrorism, in the drafting of which Sri Lanka played a leading role.
"Sri Lanka has been urging Britain for many years to adopt a law on terrorism and therefore we are pleased that this law has been enacted," he said.
"There can be no doubt whatsoever that the LTTE qualifies for proscription under this law. It is now a question of the political will on the part of the British Government to do so," he added.
The far-reaching provisions of this new law define "terrorism" as the use or threat of action involving serious violence against a person or involves serious damage to property.
The significant aspect of the UK Terrorism Act 2000, however, is that a terrorist act includes action outside the United Kingdom; a reference to any person or to property is a reference to any person or property, wherever situated; a reference to the public includes a reference to the public of a country other than the UK and "the Government" means the Government of the UK, or a part of the UK or of a country other than the UK.
A terrorist organisation is classified as one if it (a) commits or participates in acts of terrorism, (b) prepares for terrorism, (c) promotes or encourages terrorism, or (d) is otherwise concerned in terrorism.
A person is deemed to commit an offence if he belongs or professes to belong to a proscribed organisation, invites support for the proscribed organisation, if he arranges, manages or asserts in arranging or managing a meeting which supports or further the activities of such an organisation.
The new law lays down the procedure for such a proscribed organisation to appeal against an order, but a person guilty of an offence under this law can be jailed for upto ten years or fined, or both.
The wearing of an item of clothing in public or campaigning or displaying even an article of such a banned organisation — or even arousing "a reasonable suspicion" that he is a member or supporter of a proscribed organisation is an offence which would carry a lesser punishment, however.Measures against fund-raising, whether voluntary or by compulsion, one of the major sources of revenue for the LTTE from nearly a million people of Sri Lankan Tamil origin overseas, have been included in the UK Terrorism Act.
A person commits an offence if he a) invites another to provide money, or other property or receives money and b) intends that it be used, or has reasonable cause to suspect that it may be used, for the purpose of terrorism.
Funding arrangements and money laundering such as by transfer to nominees etc. and the export of cash are also offences which have jail sentences running upto 15 years, apart from the seizure or forfeiture of such monies or properties.
Inciting other persons to commit an act of terrorism outside the UK, including murder, an offence under the UK Offences against the Person Act 1861 (wounding with intent; poison; explosions) are deemed offences committed in the UK.
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