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* Sri Lanka Tamil Party is for a public referendum on constitution - MP Sumanthiran
Tue, Feb 14, 2017, 12:14 am SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Feb 13, Colombo: Sri Lanka's main Tamil Party, Tamil National Alliance (TNA) is of the view that adoption of a new constitution should take place with the approval of the people at a referendum and it supports the proposal put forward by the government to hold a public referendum, TNA Parliamentarian MA Sumanthiran said.

Speaking to BBC Sandeshaya, Parliamentarian Sumanthiran said the TNA is prepared to engage in a meaningful discussion on the issue of devolution of power in the new constitution instead of insisting on words.

Pointing out that government's powers, parliamentary powers, power of the executive and electoral system are important facts that should be included in a constitution and the TNA's stand is that such significant matters should not be changed without the people's approval, the MP said.

When asked whether the TNA believes that public will approve a new constitution, the MP said the Sinhalese as much as Tamils want a solution to the ethnic problem protracted for over 70 years.

Responding to question whether the Tamil party is ready to abandon calls for the merger of the Northern and Eastern Provinces and the Federal Government structure to obtain the support of the Sinhalese people for a new constitution and the MP said he believes the opportunity has arisen to come to an agreement through negotiations.

"On the other hand a federal polity for Sri Lanka was first recommended by Prime Minister Bandaranaike. When he presented the federal solution then Jaffna leaders opposed it. Upcountry leaders appeared before the Donoughmore and Soulbury Commissions also wanted a federal solution," MP Sumanthiran said describing the political history of the country.

He said, considering Sri Lanka's history the Tamil party has no problem with the government giving the topmost priority for Buddhism in the new constitution, but the problem is the other religions falling to a secondary level.

However, the TNA parliamentarian Sumanthiran said the parliament has no power to create a new constitution and stressed that holding a public referendum is a must.


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