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Home > Struggle for Tamil Eelam > Conflict Resolution: Tamil Eelam - Sri Lanka > Broken Pacts & Evasive Proposals > All Party Representative Committee Farce - 2006/2008 > All Party Representative Committee is dead, says UNP

All Party Representative Committee is dead, says UNP

[TamilNet, Thursday, 16 August 2007]

After the meeting of the All Party Representative Committee (APRC) on Constitutional Reforms on 14 August 2007 was abruptly halted and adjourned indefinitely due to demands from Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and Mahajana Eksath Peramuna (MEP) members, and failed to "finalise a draft report by today to keep to a deadline set by the United National Party UNP," the opposition UNP spokesperson said the "APRC process is dead in the water," the Morning Leader reported in the Wednesday edition.

"The sudden decision to move for an adjournment yesterday came following representations made by the JHU to the President Monday night. The SLFP and MEP representatives to the APRC, Minister Vishwa Warnapala and Nalin de Silva, had informed Chairman Tissa Vitharana that the proceedings had to be adjourned in keeping with a request made by the President," the Morning Leader said.

While the UNP said "they have been proved correct that the entire APRC process was an eye wash," the APRC chairman, in a tactic supporting the accusations by political analysts that the APRC is only "about being seen to be doing something and about buying time," told Reuters in an interview Wednesday that "a raft of Sri Lankan political parties has reached broad consensus on a cross-party devolution proposal," and that "he aimed to complete a draft and hand it over to [Sri Lanka's] President Mahinda Rajapaksa by the end of next week."

"The APRC had a series of meetings during the last two weeks to finalise its report before August 15. The APRC had by a majority view taken the position that the unit of devolution should be the province and the nature of the state should be "united" as opposed to unitary. The parties that supported these positions were the UNP, LSSP, CP, CWC, UPF, SLMC and NUA.

"The SLFP, MEP and the JHU had opposed the majority position," the Morning Leader said.

When formed in June 2006, the APRC was tasked to produce a report before the expected peace talks between the LTTE and the Government of Sri Lanka in the last week of October. When the 17-member panel of "Legal/Constitutional Experts" finally 'completed' its task, there were four separate, competing reports. The reports, leaked to the media in December, triggered controversy.

In early March, Vitarana, a respected Left politician, said the consensual APRC proposal, which was hoped to be ready by February, had been delayed because of the ruling Sri Lanka Freedom Party's (SLFP) delay in submitting its proposals.

On 22nd March, the Minister said he wants the "exercise to be completed over the next 60 days," again moving the deadline to end of May.

The JVP, which is third largest political party represented in parliament with 39 parliamentarians, boycotted the APRC since early December saying it is not interested in formulating a political package based on a federal concept to solve the crisis.

Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU), all monks' party said in February that it will not table its proposals to the All Party Representatives Committee (APRC) to find a political solution to the ethnic conflict. JHU reasoned that Mahinda Chinthanaya mandates a solution on the basis of unitary concept of constitution and therefore no alternate proposals are necessary.

Dr Saravanamuttu predicted the destiny of the APRC effort earlier pointing to the inclusion of "most prominent and consistent ant-federalists like H.L. de Silva" in the expert panel, and said "the balance of power of opinion and bias on the committee may result in the whole exercise being yet another one of futility." He questioned: "Is the primary consideration here the transformation of the conflict or is it about keeping potential critics on board ?"

Rajapakse and ruling party Ministers also tried to introduce the Panchayati Raj concept, a third tier village level administrative arrangement into the Sri Lanka devolution debate in October 2006, touting it as �ray of hope� to solve Sri Lanka�s �domestic problems.�

Gajendrakumar responded that "Panchayati Raj was enacted mainly to promote grass-root level democracy, to empower poor women, and to enable feudally-strapped residents of rural India to participate in the world's largest democracy," indicating that this will receive total rejection from Tamils who at best are seeking a viable alternative to secession.

With UNP's pronouncement that "APRC is dead," the only path alive that was pursuing a political solution to Sri Lanka's conflict has been closed. But the APRC Chairman appears to think the deliberations might still continue.



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