UNP for a Credible Power Sharing Arrangement
without Federal or Unitary Labels
We reproduce below a Special Statement issued by the United National Party
on 28 September 2007
The United National Party believes that long lasting peace is possible only through a negotiated political solution based on a credible power sharing proposal acceptable to all communities. The Party’s Annual Conventions of 2004 and 2006 reiterated this position. These policies were set out and further developed by Hon. Ranil Wickremesinghe - the Leader of the Party and Leader of the Opposition, when he delivered the J R Jayewardene commemoration lecture. He made the following observations:
1. *We must oppose separatism;
*Terrorism requires a military response;
*The causes leading to separatism requires a political solution.
There must be contingency plans to deal with any breakdown in negotiations or when there are obstacles to a political solution. This should include both political and security components. We must take steps to obtain the support of all parties, and work wholeheartedly to ensure the success of the peace process.
2. A negotiated political solution based on:
(i) Renunciation of Violence;
(ii) Human Rights; and
It must also accommodate the legitimate aspirations of all communities. The political solution must address:
(i) The grievances of the Tamils;
(ii) The fears of the Muslims in the North-East regarding ethnic-cleansing;
(iii) The concerns of some sections of the Sinhalese that devolution will lead to separatism.
3. The political solution must be acceptable to the Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims, Burghers and other small ethnic communities. It must also have the support of the International Community.
4. A political solution must safeguard the territorial integrity of Sri Lanka and the sovereignty of the people. It must also protect the rights of the minorities.
We must be innovative and evolve a new constitutional model reflecting our own experiences.
5. The present system (the 13th Amendment) is based on the Provinces. Therefore we have to determine whether Provinces will be the unit of devolution for the future. If new units of devolution are being demarcated, it should be based on political, social and economic criteria.
6. There must be credible power sharing between the national government Regional/Provincial Councils and Local Authorities. The Centre must retain the powers needed for the effective functioning of the national government. The other powers must be vested in the other two levels.
People living in the North have expressed fears that powers vested in the Region/Province may be taken away by a future Parliament. People in the South have a concern that the Party in power at the Centre will take away the powers of the Regional/Provincial Councils controlled by Opposition Parties. Similarly, Local Authorities are worried that the Party in power in the Region/Centre will take away their powers.
Therefore, it is necessary to have a system to safeguard the devolved powers. We have to give our attention not only to legal principles but also to practical problems.
7. These proposals must make provision for sharing of power at the Centre between the national government and the Regional/Provincial administrations.
8. The Co-Chairs and India be requested to arrange for cessation of hostilities and resumption of talks. In order to create an appropriate environment for talks it is essential,
(i) that all parties agree to uphold human rights;
(ii) investigations be carried out into the abductions and disappearances, and remove the culture of impunity;
(iii) immediate resolution of outstanding humanitarian issues; and
(iv) guarantee of all democratic rights.
The Ceasefire Agreement must be amended taken into account the present situation in the North – East and the experiences of last few years. The environment today is far different from that of 2002 when the CFA was signed.
A Muslim delegation must participate at the peace talks, as agreed.
9. We have to structure the entire peace process: Talks with the LTTE; Talks with all other parties and groups.
During this period we must also maintain a close relationship with India and the International Community.
10. A political solution must be acceptable to all communities. Thereafter, it must be accepted by the people at a Referendum. Once a negotiated political solution is accepted at a Referendum, a Constitutional amendment incorporating a political solution will be passed by Parliament. This Constitutional amendment will have to be approved by the people at a second Referendum.