GoSL in trouble because it reneged on promises


By Shamindra Ferdinando

Had the Sri Lankan government fulfilled its commitments and addressed contentious issues it wouldn't have been in crisis today and, therefore, the ruling coalition should accept the responsibility for the current situation, TNA leader, R. Sampanthan told The Island yesterday.

The TNA leader said President Mahinda Rajapaksa had repeatedly assured India of his commitment to 13 Amendment and in some instances even talked of 13 Amendment Plus. Indian Premier Narendra Modi raised the devolution issue at his first meeting with President Rajapaksa following his swearing in ceremony in New Delhi.

The Trincomalee District MP was responding to Chairman of the ruling Bharatiya Janatha Party's Committee on Strategic Action Dr. Subramanian Swamy's advice to Sri Lanka's Tamil leadership to tackle contentious issues through negotiations.

Declaring that Sri Lanka had never had an ethnic problem, the former Union Minister Swamy declared that the ethnic issue here was nothing but a figment of British imagination.

Swamy said that India couldn't compel Sri Lanka to implement the 13th Amendment though New Delhi took it up on numerous occasions. The BJP official referred to the reluctance on the part the Sri Lankan government to implement some provisions.

Swamy also referred to recent media reports that the TNA had agreed to submit an affidavit to the Supreme Court, accepting the country's unitary status. Dismissing war crimes allegations propagated by a section of the international community targeting Sri Lanka, Swamy said that people of India didn't care for the LTTE or its supporters. He explained the the post-war projects undertaken by the LTTE rump with money made available through illegal transactions, including drugs.

Swamy also dismissed accusations that the Sri Lankan Army engaged in genocide.

Asked why he and MP M. A. Sumanthiran, remained silent when they had an opportunity to challenge the BJP delegation, MP Sampanthan said: Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion. Swamy is free to express his views. Although, the former Union Minister seems overtly inclined towards the government of Sri Lanka, I didn't want to quarrel with him. Whatever, the visiting delegation said, Indian Premier Modi is on record having taken up our issue with President Rajapaksa."

Commenting on Swamy's harsh criticism of the US, UK and Norway, the TNA leader said that Norway had to tackle a very difficult task. Persuading the LTTE back to the negotiating table was a herculean task, he said, adding that Norwegian efforts should be appreciated, though their role was terminated at a certain point.

Norwegian ambassador Grete Løchen was also present at the event. She was visibly surprised when Swamy urged the Sri Lankan government to go on the offensive on the human rights front and not to give visas to Norwegians.

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