People do not appreciate the CFA - GL

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 conference.

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 country.

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.


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