UNP willing to back Committee 'A' report
The main opposition United National Party (UNP) is to consider supporting the controversial report of the Experts Committee 'A' which made sweeping recommendations on devolution to the All Party Representatives Committee last week as a "starting point" for a joint UNP-Government constitutional reforms proposal to end the northern insurgency.
The Sunday Times learns that UNP and Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe is to convey this position to President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Mr. Wickremesinghe, who was on a working visit to the United States this week, has requested a meeting either today or tomorrow with the President. He is due in Colombo today.
The recommendations by eleven members from a panel of 17 titled report of the Committee 'A' has generated a political controversy with the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) walking out of the APRC, slamming it as having gone beyond its brief by making political proposals based on the views of a German-based NGO.
Mr. Wickremesinghe had also conveyed his position to both the Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns and Assistant Secretary Richard Boucher. The US, it is learnt, has endorsed the Committee 'A' report as one that could be "built on, quickly".
Mr. Wickremesinghe is to brief President Rajapaksa on the outcome of his talks with US Government officials and convey the US position on the matter.
In Washington, Mr. Wickremesinghe said he was willing to provide President Rajapaksa with the parliamentary support he required to carry forward a joint UNP-Government set of proposals if the JVP withdrew its support to the Government on the same question.
In an official statement released by his Office in Colombo, the UNP Leader has stated that the Party stands for a political settlement based on the Tokyo Declaration and decisions made at previous rounds of peace talks.
Mr. Wickremesinghe who took with him the Committee 'A' report to Washington has now stated that he is in accord with views expressed in this report as a "starting point" for the
formulation of Government proposals, but was uncertain whether President Rajapaksa was willing to carry its recommendations forward due to JVP opposition.
He had, however, not taken with him the report of the Committe 'B' written by a breakaway group of the main committee and headed by senior lawyer H.L. de Silva which critiqued severely the findings of the Committee 'A'.
During his stay in Washington, Mr. Wickremesinghe had also spoken to Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Norwegian International Development Minister Erik Solheim and Japanese special envoy Yasushi Akashi on the telephone to obtain their concurrence for a push by the Co-Chairs to impress on the Government to quickly place its constitutional reforms proposals as a means to end the Northern separatist insurgency.