by Brian Tissera
The people have not fully realised and appreciated the
painstaking discussions and preparations which preceded the Ceasefire Agreement
(CFA), a singular achievement of the Ranil Wickremesinghe government. Today it can
be observed how fragile the CFA is. The CFA is not a final solution, rather it is
an interim device which helps build an environment in which issues can be
discussed with minimum tension, Professor G. L. Peiris said at the UNP media
All the good work we is did in jeopardy. We not only brought
about the CFA but protected it.
What has happened today is that the government which has yet to
come up with a coherent policy acceptable to all constituent parties of the
government is doing nothing. The UNP on the other hand has offered its hand of
co-operation and Ranil Wickremesinghe has expressed his willingness to meet
President Chandrika Kumaratunga whenever she wishes to consult him on the peace
process, he said.
However, what has happened is that the President is moving
forward on a narrow political agenda of her own in order to extend her term of
office by illegal means. The UNP will never allow such a situation.
Even the maiden budget of the UPFA is primarily intended to
give "a good feeling" for a short duration and also the impression that all
segments of society have benefited in order to hold a referendum and set up a
constituent assembly, a process which has nothing to do with the future of the
The UNP is of the view that a strong mechanism is necessary to
hold the centre when extensive devolution is affected. The Executive Presidency,
we believe, must be retained for this purpose. However it must be restructured so
that blanket immunity for the President is abolished and also that the President
is responsible to Parliament, Peiris said.
It is also necessary to remind the government of the punishment
meted out by the people to political parties who try to illegally extend their
period of office. A good example of this is the when United Left Government
elected to office in 1970 for a period of 5 years however through a constitutional
amendment extended their period by 2 years upto 1977. The end result was that
having being elected by a 2/3 majority in 1970, they received a humiliating defeat
and ended up with a paltry 8 seats in 1977.
A matter of importance is that the Elections Commission must be
established immediately as it is a mandatory requirement according to the 17th
Amendment to the Constitution. "The President has failed to do so todate and we
demand that this institution be established so that important elections could be
conducted without any problems, especially the Presidential election which is due
in 2005," he said.