ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday February 24, 2008
Vol. 42 - No 39

UNP briefs visiting UN envoy on N-E situation

By Madhushala Senaratne

The UNP complained to the visiting Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Ms. Angela Kane of the prevailing unfavourable situation in the North and East and the grave human rights violations being committed in the area, during their meeting wth the UN envoy last Thursday. “Citing reports from several human rights organizations, Party leader Ranil Wickremesinghe briefed Ms. Kane of the atrocities taking place in the Batticaloa area,” UNP MP Dr. Jayalath Jayawardena who was present at the meeting told The Sunday Times.

The UN envoy is in Sri Lanka on a week-long fact finding mission as part of her regular consultations in the areas of her responsibility. The primary purpose of her visit is to review the work of the UN Country Team in Sri Lanka in all key areas. The UNP delegation which met Ms. Kane also discussed its stand on the proposals made by the All Parties Representative Conference (APRC) and the implementation of the 17th Amendment.

“We informed Ms. Kane that the UNP does not have any problems with the implementation of the 13th Amendment and the establishment of the provincial councils, which was a key recommendation of the APRC proposals as it was already part of the Constitution,” Dr. Jayewardene said. However, the UNP told her that the APRC proposals did not offer anything new although most parties expected a tangible solution to the ethnic conflict, he said.

The UNP also discussed with Ms. Kane the current situation on the implementation of the 17th Amendment. The Government has being dragging and delaying the establishment of the Constitution Council which is very unhealthy and detrimental to the country, he said.“However we made it clear to her that if the Government enacts the ICCPR along with the optional protocol, the UNP would support the enactment,” Dr. Jayawardena said.

The UN envoy met Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama where she discussed strengthening ties between the UN and the Government, a Foreign Ministry official said. On Thursday, Ms. Kane also met UN staff and diplomats from the EU, Norway, India and the US.“During her stay Ms. Kane would review and assess UN operations in Sri Lanka including its humanitarian and development work. This is a routine visit and follows up her visit to the island last year,” UNICEF spokesperson Gordan Weiss said.

Ms. Kane also travelled to Batticaloa yesterday where she met UN staff in the area. The UN envoy is also due to meet several other diplomats, Government officials and representatives of civil organizations. UNP MP Mano Ganeshan said that although he is due to meet with the UN representative a fixed date is yet to be decided.

“We hope to brief her on the present political situation in the country and the problems and grievances faced by the Tamil community,” he said. Ms. Kane who arrived in the island on Wednesday morning would conclude her visit on February 26.

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