Solution within constitutional framework — CBK says in Dhaka

Mukhlesur R Chowdhury
Dhaka, 21 April — President Chandraika Bandarnaike Kumaratunga made it clear that a solution to the Sri Lankan Tamil problem should have to be found within the country’s constitutional framework and also through the devolution of political power. The President was addressing a press conference at hotel Sonargaon in Dhaka prior to her departure after completing a two-day official visit to Bangladesh. Sri Lankan High Commissioner to Bangladesh Gamini S. Munasinghe, Additional Secretary to the President W. J. S. Karunaratne, Chief of Staff and Additional Secretary to President W. B. Ganegala and Director General of Foreign Ministry Mrs. Sarala Fernando were present. Mrs. Kumaratunga said that the LTTE was fighting for separate homeland and elements of a separate state existed in the current peace process. She said that under the cover of peace process, the LTTE was maintaining a separate police, judiciary and banking system in its controlled areas. A lawyer from the Colombo has to take the oath of Elam if he wants to practise in any court of the LTTE-areas. She attached much importance to negotiated settlement with the LTTE but expressed her strong reservation about the current peace process. She said she started the peace process in Sri Lanka first and it was the 6th effort that was now going on.

Asked about her relationship with the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Mrs. Kumaratunga said that in Sri Lanka there now existed an unique system where the Executive President and members of her cabinet including the Prime Minister belonged to separate political parties. President is both the head of State and Government as well as the head of Armed Forces. Ruling out any impeachment move, she said "I did not do anything wrong," she said. To avoid such complexity she had earlier proposed major constitutional changes including the abolition of the post of the Executive President but that could not be passed. So we have to accept this unique system. To change the constitution, two-thirds majority in the parliament is required.