Noting that there was no progress at the meeting held at the Presidential Secretariat on Tuesday (10) between the Tamil political parties and the Government representatives including President Ranil Wickremesinghe, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) noted that a timeframe of one week has been provided to the Government to examine the issues relating to missing persons and the release of Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act (PTA) prisoners and lands in the North, depending on which reply, they would decide on whether or not to meet again.
Addressing the media on Tuesday (10), TNA Spokesman and MP President’s Counsel (PC) M.A. Sumanthiran said that his party will not be meeting Government representatives from Tuesday to tomorrow (13) to discuss devolution-related matters as decided earlier since there had been no progress on the above-mentioned issues.
“During the meeting with the Government, we discussed the current issues of our people. Issues relating to missing persons, PTA prisoners, and the release of lands were discussed. We discussed varying actions in regard to these three issues. However, the situation was the same as the last time; there was no progress,” he added.
Sumanthiran noted that his party representatives had pointed out the existing Constitutional provisions in relation to devolution and stated that it could be implemented immediately. “A proper answer in this regard is yet to be given. They said that they would inform us within a week in regard to all these issues. We have decided to meet again if they inform us within a week. Earlier, we decided to meet from Tuesday to 13 January, for four consecutive days, to discuss the above issues. However, due to this circumstance, we will not meet during the next three days. Depending on the feedback received after a week, we will decide if we will meet again. Dates will be decided accordingly.”
He noted that President Wickremesinghe said that he would visit Jaffna on 15 January on Thai Pongal Day and that he would address the issue pertaining to the release of lands.
TNA Leader and MP Attorney R. Sampanthan, Sumanthiran, Illankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi Leader Mavai Senathiraja, and Tamil Eelam Liberation Organisation Leader and MP Selvam Adaikkalanathan represented the Tamil parties in this discussion while President Wickremesinghe, Minister of Fisheries Douglas Devananda, Minister of Justice, Prisons Affairs, and Constitutional Reforms Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe PC, Minister of Foreign Affairs M.U.M. Ali Sabry PC, and Minister of Urban Development and Housing Prasanna Ranatunga represented the Government.
Meanwhile, at a meeting held on 5 January at the Presidential Secretariat between the TNA and Government representatives, including President Wickremesinghe and Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, the TNA expressed dissatisfaction regarding the lack of progress pertaining to the above issues.
Following the meeting, Sumanthiran told The Morning: “They are telling us the very same thing that they told us on 21 December 2022. That was discouraging.”
However, Sumanthiran said that he would submit documents on what needs to be done to implement the current Constitutional provisions with regard to the devolution of power as well as on what needs to be achieved for a permanent political solution.
On 14 December 2022, Sumanthiran, while speaking during the all-party conference, urged President Wickremesinghe to finalise the draft Constitution created in January 2019.
President Wickremesinghe, at the time, stated that he will hold discussions with Opposition and Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) Leader Sajith Premadasa in January 2023 with regard to the report on Constitutional reforms submitted by a committee led by Romesh De Silva PC.