12th August 2001
These 'Thawalama' street-drama youth who were
By Shelani de SilvaThe JVP, which struck a new understanding with the minority PA government on Friday, has demanded that the peace process with the LTTE be suspended, opening a new dimension to the country's on-going political crisis.
While investors, travel trade operators and businessmen echo the sentiments of foreign governments to speed up the peace process with the LTTE as a sine qua non to political stability, the JVP has told President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga not to proceed with finding a political solution to northern insurgency for at least an year till a caretaker government implements the independent commissions they are demanding.
The JVP has said that during the one year proposed interim period the government should not go on to devolve powers.Significantly the JVP made no mention in its official statement on the issue of talks with the LTTE.
The PA-JVP talks on Friday were aimed at striking a deal where the JVP which has 10 crucial seats in the now-suspended Parliament would provide conditional support for the ruling SLFP-MEP-CP-LSSP-NUA-CWC-EPDP coalition to remain in office for an year.
JVP spokesman Wimal Weerawansa told The Sunday Times that President Kumaratunga had not agreed to this demand of theirs admitting there was a conflict between the two parties on this issue.
Mr. Weerawansa said the government had to stop, the peace process because during this period no one had the right to go into any kind of discussions which were debatable.
The JVP, which met the joint opposition a few hours before its delegation met President Kumaratunga, proposed at the earlier meeting that if Parliament was to be prorogued again preventing the House from meeting on September 7, it would call for the dissolution of Parliament and fresh elections to follow.
At the meeting with the President the JVP had said it would provide conditional support for the tottering PA coalition, provided Parliament was reconvened, the commissions established and the executive presidency abolished, among other demands.
The JVP said the President agreed to abolish the executive presidency, appoint four independent commissions on the Judiciary, Police, Public Service and Elections and introduce a farmers pension scheme, but there was no formal statement issued by the government on such agreement. On September 7, the day Parliament is presently scheduled to meet, the Opposition is planning to take up the impeachment motion against the Chief Justice, which the JVP is committed to support, a possible vote of No-confidence against the government and a possible impeachment motion against the President.
The JVP has not given its approval for the latter two motions, but keeps its options open.
"The president did not agree on the state media commission, our suggestion to hold an election under a caretaker government, and to reduce the cabinet to 20 members, Mr. Weerawansa said.
President Kumaratunga had informed the JVP that the government too had proposals to be implemented if it agreed to the interim period, but had not elaborated on what the proposals were.
The JVP among its demands has called on the government to cancel the referendum and summon parliament.
In the event the government accepts the JVP proposals, it does not intend sitting in the government and will continue to remain in the opposition.
"We will campaign for elections under a caretaker government. We feel
that if we can achieve this, the country will benefit," he said.
By Dilrukshi HandunnettiFollowing opposition from Tamil political parties to the charge of treason contained in the draft motion to impeach President Kumaratunga, the opposition draft committee hopes to have the motion ready within a week after making necessary modifications, political sources said.
The charge of treason includes the link with Varatharaja Perumal who unilaterally declared the North-east a separate state, the alleged offer of self-administration to the LTTE for ten years and exchange of forty letters with the LTTE leadership sans disclosure to Parliament.
While the drafting process continued, several Tamil MPs raised objections to the treason charge on the basis of offering self-rule to the LTTE under an envisaged political arrangement.
One MP said supporting such a charge relating to self rule would be a betrayal of the Tamil people.
Other charges in the proposed impeachment motion relate to abuse of
power when issuing liquor permits from 1996 to 1999 in the capacity of
Finance Minister, prorogation of parliament at a time when a no-confidence
motion is pending against the government, calling for a referendum while
Parliament has been prorogued, prevention of legislators from entering
Parliamentary premises, corruption related to the Emirates deal, Channel
Nine, construction of a presidential palace at a time of recession at the
cost of Rs. 600 million and undemocratic use of weapons on a peaceful protest
held on July 19 killing two protestors.
Tomorrow's demonstrations will call for the reconvening of Parliament and the resignation of the government of President Kumaratunga as a continuation of the July 19 Colombo city demonstration aimed at pressurising the government through extra-parliamentary methods.
Opposition UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe told The Sunday times that party cadres had been told to continue their agitation campaign and prepare for elections in the absence of positive invitation by the government for serious talks on nation-building.
"The situation has slipped from bad to worse. Nero is fiddling while the country was burning," he said.
Meanwhile, the UNP yesterday called upon the government to show its commitment to the initiation of a serious dialogue by immediately appointing a PA negotiator or a committee to pursue discussion on the formation of a government of national reconciliation.
UNP Whip Tyronne Fernando, a member of the UNP's three-member committee that reviews government overtures, said the party had demonstrated its keenness to end this country's perilous bleeding, and now it was up to the government to show its seriousness of purpose.
Mr. Fernando was responding to the President's charge on Thursday that the UNP was trying to derail PA attempts to form a government of consensus.
"We are ready to hold structured talks, and are waiting now for the
government to act," Mr. Fernando said.
However, Information Director Ariya Rubasinghe told The Sunday Times last night the statement issued by the Special Media Information Centre on Wednesday regarding the French ban was based on 'intelligence' reports received by the government.
A French embassy spokesperson in Colombo said they would also issue a statement regarding the matter tomorrow. She said the embassy was awaiting a clarification from its government.
By Laila NasryThe UN Human Rights Commission has rejected the Attorney General's preliminary objections in an appeal filed before it by Ravaya Editor Victor Ivan and requested the Sri Lankan Government to submit within six months its explanation regarding the Editor's complaint.
Mr. Ivan alleged that the three indictments filed against him in the Colombo High Court for criminal defamation were without proper assessment, presented indiscriminately and arbitrarily with a design to harass him.
The Geneva-based UNHRC, under the Optional Protocol to the Political and Civl Rights Covenant has found the complaint admissible for the consideration of merits and requested the Sri Lankan Government to submit within six months written explanations clarifying the matter and indicating the measures if any, that have been taken.
In its decision the human rights committee of the UNHRC took the view that though the indictments were filed prior to Sri Lanka acceding to the Optional Protocol, the consequences of such indictments continue, constituting new violations which the committee is competent to look into.
It disregarded a claim posed by the Attorney General of Sri Lanka that the editor had failed to exhaust domestic remedies, concluding the Supreme Court is the highest court of the land and an application before it as employed by the editor constitutes the last domestic judicial remedy.
The Attorney General K.C. Kamalasabayson when contacted by The Sunday Times declined to comment on the matter, except to say that Solicitor General C. R. de Silva is was now in Geneva with the possibility of looking into the matter.
On December 17, 1999 the editor made a complaint to the UNHRC stating the Attorney General had failed to exercise his discretion in the filing of the three indictments for criminal defamation against him on June 29, 1996, March 31, 1997 and September 30, 1997 thereby violating his freedom of expression and his right to equality and equal protection of the law guaranteed respectively by Article 19 and 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
He claimed his rights under Article 2 (3) of the Covenant had been impinged upon and an effective remedy deprived when the Supreme Court had refused Leave to Proceed with his Fundamental Rights application to suspend the indictments on the same grounds as guaranteed under Articles 14 (1) (a) and 12(1) of the Constitution.
The Attorney General said that Article 19 (3) of the Covenant carried with it special duties and responsibilities and may be subject to restrictions provided by law necessary for the respect of the rights and reputations of the others.
It was submitted that the editor had not exhausted all available domestic remedies including making representations either to the Attorney General, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration or to the Human Rights Commission. Further the Attorney General pointed out that the Editor had not established violation of any rights under the Covenant for which remedies were available under the Sri Lankan Constitution.
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