Tamil parties say autonomy bill disappointing

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 02 August 2000, 10:44 GMT]
Tamil parties Wednesday reacted with thinly veiled disappoinment and chagrin to the government's decision to table in the Sri Lankan Parliament tomorrow the constitutional reform proposals agreed upon last month by the ruling People's Alliance and the main opposition United National Party which falls much short of their basic expectations about autonomy. "The reform package to be presented tomorrow aims to make the country exclusively Buddhist. We have already objected to three fundamental aspects of this package" said TULF MP for Batticaloa Mr.Joseph Pararajasingham. The leaders of the People's Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE) and the Tamil Eelam Liberation Organisation (TELO) said categorically they will reject this 'package'.

Mr.Sampanthan, the TULF's general secretary and MP for Trincomalee, was more cautious in his comment. He said that the TULF would support the constitutional reform bill if the alterations desired by the party are made during the course of the debate in Parliament.

cartoon-020800.gifThe Sri Lankan President had told the Tamil parties last week she would present in Parliament the 1997 version of the reform 'package' instead of the proposals on which her government had reached an agreement with the opposition.

All the Tamil parties, except the EPDP, have categorically rejected the UNP-government 'package'. The TULF and the PLOTE say that the 1997 proposals, though not satisfactory, could at least be the basis for negotiations on a form of regional autonomy that will meet Tamil political aspirations.

The leader of the People's Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE), Dharmalingam Sidarthan stated categorically that his party which has two MPs will reject the reform bill if it does not satisfy the political aspirations of the Tamil people.

The sole MP of the Tamil Eelam Liberation Organisation (TELO), 'Selvam' Adaikkalanathan told TamilNet "there is nothing in the 1997 version of the constitutional reform proposals that can solve the fundamental problems of the Tamil people and what is going to be presented in Parliament is worse. My party unequivocally rejects it".

However, a senior minister of the PA regime said that he is "hundred percent sure" that the Eelam People's Democratic Party (EPDP) which has six members in Parliament will vote for the bill.

This weekend the EPDP leader who is currently in Jaffna preparing the ground for his election campaign told the 'Valampuri', a new daily backed by him, that his group would fully support the efforts of the government to pass the reform bill in Parliament.

 

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