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* South African envoy discusses Sri Lanka's ethnic issue with Tamil parties in North
Wed, Jul 9, 2014, 01:30 am SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

July 08, Jaffna: South African President Jacob Zuma's special envoy to Sri Lanka, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and his delegation Tuesday visited Jaffna, the Northern Province capital, and met with the representatives of Tamil political parties.

The South African delegation was welcomed by the Governor of Northern Province G.A. Chandrasiri, Government Agent of Jaffna District Sundaram Arumainayagam, and EPDP Leader, Minister Douglas Devananda.

During the meeting with the South African envoy, Minister Devananda has requested Ramaphosa to brief the major Tamil party, Tamil National Alliance (TNA), on importance of representation in the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) appointed to reach a sustainable solution to the ethnic issue.

Emphasizing that Parliamentary Select Committee would be the best place to solve the long-term problem, the Minister has told the envoy that the government has invited TNA several times to participate in the PSC but TNA has refused to do so and asked the envoy to mediate with TNA .

The TNA has decided not to participate in the Committee despite the government's stance that only a PSC can agree on a solution to settle the national problem.

The TNA meanwhile, has offered to fully cooperate with South-Africa mediated discussions on resolving the ethnic issue.

During his meeting with Ramaphosa, TNA leader and parliamentarian R. Sampanthan has briefed him about his party's goals and progress towards a solution to the ethnic issue that is acceptable to all communities in Sri Lanka.

Sampanthan, while noting that they had productive discussions with South Africa on a political solution earlier, extended his party's support for mediation by the South Africans.

The visiting delegation has briefed the Sri Lankan representatives about the process employed in South Africa and promised to employ their best efforts to solve the ethnic issue in Sri Lanka.

In a statement on Sunday prior to his departure to Sri Lanka, Ramaphosa said South Africa will help Sri Lanka in its reconciliation process and bring constitutional reforms to stabilize the country.

"We will also try to help the Sri Lankans with the Truth and Reconciliation process, their own constitutional reform and make sure Sri Lanka does indeed become a stable country where they will enjoy human rights," Mr. Ramaphosa said.

TNA representatives Mavai Senathirajah, Suresh Premachandran and M.A. Sumanthiran were also present at the discussion with the South African delegation.

Ramaphosa also held discussions with the Northern Province Governor G. A. Chandrasiri and Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran.

Ramaphosa was accompanied by the South African Deputy Minister of Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Ms Nomaindia Mfeketo and South African High Commissioner to Colombo Geoff Q.M. Doidge.

The South African delegation, arrived in the island yesterday, had held discussions with President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Minister Basil Rajapaksa, Minister of External Affairs Prof. G.L. Peiris, and Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.

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