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Mar 16, 2017

Time is appropriate for a new constitution – Amila Thera

Now is the best time to bring in a new constitution as no community demands a separate state carved out of the country, says political activist and academic Ven. Dambara Amila Thera.

The lecturer from Sri Jayewardenapura University was speaking at a public meeting organized by the national movement for a new constitution at Sri Lanka Foundation in Colombo yesterday (15).

Ex-president Chandrika Kumaratunga and ministers Mangala Samaraweera, Sarath Fonseka and Mahinda Amaraweera too, participated.

Amila Thera quoted Lord Buddha’s preaching and old Sinhalese sayings and noted that appropriate solutions should be found for the situation.

According to him, Tamils had voted for either Maithripala Sirisena or Mahinda Rajapaksa at the last presidential election and that that showed what their hope was.

He went onto say that there was communal and religious coexistence now, Tamils nor Muslims were demanding a separate state of their own, and other countries were not making any interference in the country’s internal affairs.

Politicians without a future

Lawyer Britto Fernando, who addressed the gathering, said only the politicians without a future, including former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, were speaking against a new constitution.

He said he respected incumbent Maithripala Sirisena for having had a backbone to leave the Rajapaksa regime, and urged him to deliver his promises and introduce a new constitution that would be acceptable to the Tamils too.

SLFP cannot say no now

Also speaking here, Prof. Sarath Wijesuriya quoted from the SLFP election manifesto of 1994 that promised a new constitution and said the party could not say no now, and that there was no mandate for a new constitution.

Ironically, Ranil Wickremesinghe who had opposed then, is now leading efforts to bring in a new constitution, he said, adding that there would be no future if this opportunity was missed.

Lawyer Sudarshana Gunawardena told the meeting that nationalist movements mostly used their names to create communal divisions.

Disruption to the meeting

As the meeting was underway, it was apparent there was an organized group intending to disrupt the proceedings and one of them jeered at Kumaratunga when she arrived at the meeting.

Lawyer J.C. Weliamuna, Gamini Viyangoda, Lucien Bulathsinhala, Udeniya Dissanayake and Saman Ratnapriya too, addressed the gathering.

What the SLFP says

Meanwhile, a group of SLFP ministers, including Dilan Perera, told the president after the cabinet meeting on the previous day that a referendum should not take place on a new constitution.

No party has received a mandate for a new constitution and there was one only for a 20th amendment, they said, warning that the country would be in chaos if that was done.

The ministers also asked the president to pay his attention to foreign affairs minister Mangala Samaraweera’s promise to the UNHRC in Geneva that a new constitution would be introduced.

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