President Chandrika Kumaratunga`s Women`s Day speech where she cited federalism as the only solution to the North-East problem, drew a mixed reaction from political parties yesterday.
UNP Deputy General Secretary, MP Tissa Attanayake said what the President expressed was her viewpoint on the devolution of power, not that of her government.
`Her government, with the JVP as the main coalition partner, holds a different opinion in this regard. They are against holding peace talks based on the proposed Interim Authority. The government should iron out its internal differences and the Prime Minister should express the government`s stand once and for all. Then only the UNP can respond to it. It is not officials who should declare the government`s stand,` said Mr. Attanayake.
He said the UNP constantly upholds a federal solution within a united Sri Lanka.
`We continue to subscribe to the stand as explained in the Oslo and Tokyo declarations. Therefore we have nothing against the President`s statement regarding a federal solution. However, the JVP is yet to make clear its stand on the national question,` he said.
Commenting on the President`s speech, Jathika Hela Urumaya MP Ven. Ellawala Medhananda Thera said his party was against the government giving into the demands of the LTTE under cover of agreeing to a federal solution.
`There is a possibility of introducing different models of federal structures to please the LTTE. We must have a clear idea about the federal solution that the government is going to offer before we can comment. We are, however, against an Interim Authority proposed by the government,` he said.
He said any democratically elected government had the right to wage war against any group.
`Prabhakaran is a murderous terrorist. The previous governments strengthened him. He was weakened after the tsunami. Now this government is strengthening him again. The situation after the tsunami, should be used by the government to destroy the LTTE as an organisation,` he said.
He said the Tamil political parties advocated federalism in the past also in a bid to achieve their ultimate goal of a separate state.
The Tamil National Alliance (TNA), however, insisted on the necessity to resume peace talks and formation of a joint mechanism with the LTTE to handle post-tsunami relief measures.
TNA Batticaloa district MP Joseph Pararajasingham said that the government should establish a `common working arrangement` with the LTTE, which would eventually create a conducive atmosphere for the resumption of peace talks.
`We must commence peace talks. A federal solution is needed for this problem. The possibility of a federal solution should be explored. The prevailing atmosphere after the tsunami is ideal for both parties, especially for the government. A mechanism to achieve this objective of building a bridge of understanding should be activated at this hour,` he said.
Sri Lanka Muslim Congress Secretary Hasan Ali said that federalism was the widely accepted solution to the problem, favoured by the international community and other stakeholders of the peace process.
`The JVP and the JHU get panicky over a federal solution. Even in the developed countries federalism is functioning well. India is a clear example. The federal system can help unite the country, not break it up. Therefore, the President`s speech is welcome,` he said.
Asked about the role for Muslims in a future federal solution, he said that Muslims should also have a place in the power sharing arrangement.