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* Sri Lanka Opposition Leader highlights the need for merger of Northern and Eastern provinces
Sat, Oct 7, 2017, 08:17 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Oct 07, Colombo: Sri Lanka's Opposition Leader and the leader of the main Tamil party Tamil National Alliance (TNA) R. Sampanthan has highlighted the need for the Northern and Eastern Provinces to merge to function as one province as a majority of Tamil speaking people live in the two provinces.

During his meeting with visiting UK Minister of State for Asia and the Pacific, Mark Field on Wednesday at the British High Commissioner's official residence, Westminster House in Colombo, the TNA leader stressed that that the majority Sinhala community need not to be afraid of the merger as there will be a constitutional protection preventing any move towards separation.

The power-sharing arrangements will be worked out within a United, Undivided and Indivisible Sri Lanka Mr. Sampanthan pointed out to the Minister.

Mr. Sampanthan explained the current political situation to the British Minister said the TNA genuinely participated in the processes of framing a new Constitution, a TNA statement said.

Highlighting the Constitutional making process Mr. Sampanthan said from 1957 onwards there had been various attempts made to recognize the pluralism in this country, but unfortunately, none of those efforts came to be realized.

"The need for a power sharing arrangement has been in discussion over 30 years since 1957. Only in 1987 with the involvement of Indian Government for the very first time a power sharing arrangement was recognized in the constitution of this country," Mr. Sampanthan said.

"From that time, onwards steps were taken by every successive Government to address the National question and evolve a final solution" he added.

"We are seeking an arrangement that will enable people to exercise powers related to their Social, cultural, economic, and political matters based on the principle of sovereignty of the people as citizens of this country," he said adding that "this power should not be taken back in anyway."

"Framing a new Constitution is an important task in finding a resolution to the national question. We can't fail in it, if we fail there will be a recurrence of violence," Mr. Sampanthan cautioned.

Speaking of the consequences of the violence in the past Mr. Sampanthan said fifty percent of the Sri Lankan Tamils live outside the country and if a lasting solution not found more Tamil people will leave the country.

Answering a question regarding the role of the diaspora members Mr. Sampanthan said that the Diaspora is adopting a pragmatic approach. "They too would like to see an acceptable resolution to this issue," he said.

Mr. Sampanthan highlighted the importance of the role of the International community at this very important juncture of this country and said "that the United Kingdom must take all efforts to support these processes to see a positive end" and also to ensure that the Government of Sri Lanka delivers on urgent matters like release of private lands, issue of Missing persons and Political Prisoners.

The UK Minister assured the TNA Leader of the constructive engagement of the UK government and wished the TNA leader all success for all his efforts in framing a new Constitution.

Along with Minister Mark Field, British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka James Dauris and other High Commission officials were present at the meeting.


Majority Sinhala community need not to be afraid of the merger
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