Feb 14, 2017

TNA ready to abandon federalism - Sumanthiran Featured

The TNA says it is prepared to discuss a realistic power devolution programme instead of engaging in a war of words when formulating a new constitution.

Its MP M.A. Sumanthiran has told BBC Sandeshaya that a new constitution should be mandated by the people at a referendum, and that parliament had no right to go for a new constitution without such approval.

Powers of governance, parliament and the executive and the electoral system are absolute in a constitution, he noted, adding that a change in any of these was not possible with public approval.

Asked if the people will give a mandate for a new constitution, Sumanthiran said he believed the Sinhala people too, needed a solution to the more than 70-year-old ethnic conflict.

Federalism
There is an opportunity to discuss and reach consensus, he said, in answer to a question as to whether the TNA was prepared to abandon its demands for a merger of the north and the east and for a federal system of governance in order to gain the support of the Sinhalese for a new constitution.

He said his party would go to Sinhala areas and explain reasons for its stand, which, he said, was open to change.

There is a need to correct the wrong opinion about a federal solution, Sumanthiran said, adding that all stable governments in the world were based on federalism.

It was prime minister S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike who first suggested federalism, but Jaffna leaders opposed him then, and even upcountry leaders giving evidence before the Donoughmore and Soulbury commissions too, wanted a federal system of governance, he explained.

He said he had not issue with Buddhism being nurtured by the state by giving it a special place in consideration of historical facts, but noted the issue was that other religions being relegated to a lower level as a result.

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