Constitution making process: JO raises UN interference with Feltman

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by Shamindra Ferdinando

Joint Opposition (JO) parliamentary group leader Dinesh Gunawardena has called for an end to UN interference in on-going constitutional making process in accordance with Geneva Resolution 30/1 adopted in Oct 2015.

 

MP Gunawardena has said that the JO that represented a large segment of people strongly opposed to the current UN initiative that was inimical to Sri Lanka’s national interest.

 

The veteran politician was responding to Under-Secretary General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman currently here on a three-day visit to ascertain the current status of the constitution making process.

 

Feltman, who had served successive US administrations, arrived in Sri Lanka last Wednesday (July 19).

 

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya, Opposition Leader R. Sampanthan, EPDP leader Douglas Devananda and Secretary General and Deputy Secretary General of parliament had been among those present at the meeting chaired by the Speaker.

 

Sources told The Island that MP Gunawardena had explained the JO’s stand on constitutional making process was different to that of the government.

 

The UN is in the process of evaluating the on-going UNP-led constitution making process marred by political turmoil close on the heels of UN Special Rapporteur Ben Emmerson, QC’s controversial visit.

 

Feltman held discussions with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in addition to several other politicians, including Foreign Minister Ravi Karunanayake.

 

Sources quoted Gunawardena as having told Feltman that the 52-member JO parliamentary group was strongly opposed to foreign influence and dictates in respect of constitutional making process.

 

Recollecting previous constitutional making processes, MP Gunawardena emphasized that external advice was not required though the JO respected the UN and believed in working with the global body.

 

The MP also briefly explained successive presidents having to face terrorism before Mahinda Rajapaksa defeated the LTTE. The MEP leader pointed out that Sri Lanka had been able to completely eradicate terrorism in the wake of UN Resolution against terrorism adopted subsequent to 9/11 al Qaeda attacks on the US.

 

Sri Lanka defeated the LTTE in May 2009.

 

Gunawardena also explained the developments and crises relating to the 13thAmendment to the Constitution. The UPFA parliamentarian pointed out how the LTTE’s defeat had paved the way for provincial council polls in the Eastern and Northern Provinces in 2008 and 2013, respectively, during the Rajapaksa presidency.

 

The JO parliamentary group leader also expressed serious concern over repeated condemnation of the Sri Lankan military by a section of the international community. MP Gunawardena has explained that if not for the sacrifices made by the armed forces, the country would have been divided on ethnic lines.

 

Jaffna District MP Devananda had reiterated that as the full implementation of the 13thAmendment to the Constitution would suffice there was no requirement for a new constitution.

 

Sources said that Sampanthan had loudly reiterated the TNA’s call for foreign intervention to ensure the full implementation of the Geneva Resolution 30/1. However, the TNA leader hadn’t responded to MP Gunawardena during talks in parliament. Political sources told The Island that the TNA had pushed for UN intervention in a separate meeting the party had with the UN official.

 

Meanwhile, senior JO sources told The Island that Gunawardena on behalf of the outfit had brought up its opposition to the constitutional making process though it recently decided against quitting the Constitutional Assembly as well as the 21-member Steering Committee headed by Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe spearheading the process. The JO had in no uncertain terms had told the UN that it resented the process and wouldn’t support an initiative harmful to Sri Lanka’s unitary status and security of the people.

 

During yesterday’s meeting, Gunawardena had suggested that the UN could assist Sri Lanka struggling to cope up with severe drought in the Northern and North Central Provinces instead of influencing and intervening in matters such as constitution making.

 

 

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