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Sunday, 11 October 2015

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The all party cure all

Wary about past APC endeavours, party representatives call for serious commitment this time round:


- srilanka.parliament_constitutionnet.org

The All Party Conferences (APCs) had been a common phenomenon in Sri Lankan politics in dealing with the national question. However, all the APCs held so far have failed to solve the issue.

Addressing the media on his return from the UN, President Maithripala Sirisena expressed his desire to convene an APC to hold an extensive dialogue on the recently adopted UNHRC Resolution on Sri Lanka and enact a mechanism to facilitate reconciliation.

While certain legislators welcomed the Presidentís call to have an APC, Opposition political parties stressed the importance of working out modalities for the APC with all political parties in Parliament so that they could express their party stance at the Conference.

Political party leaders in the Opposition say apart from what is being mentioned in the newspapers, they have not received any communication from the government on the APC.

In a scenario where the UNHRC and the international community have highly commended the initiatives taken by the National Unity Government since January this year, the APC to be convened at this juncture would pave the way to adopt a home grown mechanism to address this issue.

The Sunday Observer spoke to a cross section of political party representatives for their views on the proposed APC.

Higher Education and Highways Minister Lakshman Kiriella

When there is an all party government, the APC is a good move to resolve the national issue. We have to discuss this in detail. The APC will be represented by most of the recognised political parties. Still this is just only an idea and no one has gone into detail.

SLFP Media Spokesman and State Minister for Highways, Dilan Perera

It is high time for all to get together and discuss the latest proposals by the UNHRC. All political parties should get together and discuss what further action should be taken in this regard.

The parties who are of the view that the present proposals are a diluted version and the parties who say the other way around, they all can sit together and discuss what is best for the country and move forward.

The President has decided to hold a dialogue with everybody to adopt a correct procedure to implement these proposals.

There may be areas that cannot be implemented because the President has gone on record saying that everything will be done under the present Constitution. all parties should get together and see what can be done under the Constitution.

The APC proposed by the President is completely different from the APCs held in the past because it will be held to discuss the recent Geneva proposals.

UNP National List MP, Dr. JayampathiWickramaratne

Having a Conference of this nature is a good move. The Opposition should act responsibly and not be opportunistic. The invitation for the APC will have to come from the President. Therefore, all political parties should engage constructively.

Leader of the Opposition, R. Sampanthan

We have not been communicated anything about the APC so far, neither have we been invited. We will certainly cooperate positively, but we will have to wait for the invitation. At the moment, we canít talk about the modalities without being invited.

JHU National Organiser, Nishantha Sri Warnasinghe

We see the Presidentís call to convene an APC as a timely move. It is vital to have a dialogue with all political parties with regard to the mechanism to be adopted to look into alleged war crime charges. This is one of the challenge faced by us as a country.

A decision on this issue will have to be taken with the consensus of all political parties as it is an issue of national importance. Whether we go for a hybrid or domestic mechanism and all other aspects in the Resolution should be discussed within an APC.

The JHU will extend its fullest support in this endeavor. Parallel to this, there should be a dialogue with religious and civil society leaders and citizen organisations. Instead of taking a unilateral decision, the government should reach a final consensus on this matter after extensive discussions with all political parties as this is an issue which has direct consequences to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country.

JVP Leader, Anura Kumara Dissanayake

We will have to wait and see since we have neither seen any draft nor do we know any thing about the objectives of the APC.

This is only a comment speculated in the media. Therefore, we are not in a position to respond to it without having an idea about its content.

Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) Secretary General, M.T. Hasen Ali

The proposed APC is a good move but it should not be like the previous APCs. In the past, we had several APCs, but nothing worked. None of the recommendations was implemented. The former President wanted an outcome to suit his whims and fancies.

This time it will be an inclusive process that will be adopted.. APC should follow a democratic process in consulting party stalwarts and the people.

They should gather information from at grassroute level and then submit it to the APC.

MEP Leader, Dinesh Gunawardena

We are a responsible opposition and we will be responsibile to people. I cannot comment since we have not received or being informed of any conference. Therefore, I do not want to comment until I know exactly what it is all about.

Ceylon Workers Congress (CWC) Leader, Muthu Sivalingam

The the ruling party should first take an initiative with regard to an APC. The APCs held so far were failures. It is high time for the government convince all parties on this matter which is primarily about issues faced by people of the North and the East.

Many politicians and political parties have expressed their opposition to this. The government must talk to the people in the North and the East and find a solution.

Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP) Leader, Prof.TissaVitarana

We donít know what the terms of this APC are and what would be its mandate.

Any action without consulting political parties, the Parliament and the Cabinet will have adverse repercussions. They are inviting us after signing the Resolution before the UNHRC by the Sri Lankan Government. We must know clearly what our terms and conditions are.

I have the unpleasant experience of chairing the former All Party Representative Committee (APRC) with over 127 meetings for over three years and coming out with a report, which was later brushed aside.

We will support but we must be certain that our views are taken into account.

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