The main Opposition UNP yesterday emphasized the importance of obtaining Tamil Nadu support in resolving the national crisis and spoke against moves to give police powers to the military.
Party front-liner Lakshman Kiriella told a news conference the government should make an effort to win over Tamil Nadu politicians in Sri Lanka`s peace process even as the crisis was getting further complicated.He said there was no use wooing the support of other countries while ignoring the Tamil Nadu state.
`The stability of the Indian Central Government depended on Tamil Nadu politics. Besides, the LTTE also draws much moral and material support from this state. So, it is important for us to win the state`s political backing,` he said.
The UNP MP said neither President Mahinda Rajapaksa nor Foreign Minister Rohita Bogollagama could visit Tamil Nadu today because they were not prepared to seek a genuine political solution in word and deed.
`I am challenging them to visit Tamil Nadu if possible. The last time, the President only went to New Delhi. Tamil Nadu`s geo-political significance can never be overlooked. That is why, UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe as the then Prime Minister proposed to construct a bridge linking Sri Lanka with Tamil Nadu. There will be numerous benefits for us from such a project,` he said.
Commenting on the SLFP power devolution proposals, Mr. Kiriella said the government had already ruled out this package as their final set of proposals.
The SLFP, the largest party in the governing coalition, announced its proposals on April 30 going backwards to the district council as the unit of devolution.
`We are now awaiting government proposals to resolve the problem. But, the President pledged to come up with his final set of proposals within three months upon election to office. After the lapse of 15 months, he is only ready with the SLFP proposals,` Mr Kiriella said.
Meanwhile the UNP also slammed the government for its move to give police powers to the three forces, saying such a step would only trigger a security crisis to civilian life of the country.
Senior UNPer John Amaratunga a former Public Security Minister in the then UNP government said members of security forces were not familiar with civil administrative duties the police were usually called upon to perform and therefore public security would be at stake if this drastic decision was implemented. Mr. Amaratunga said he saw this government move as another step towards stifling the media and suppressing political opponents.
He said the LTTE air strikes had now placed national security in jeopardy, and the government should provide increased security for the nerve centres of our economy.
Referring to the government`s decision to purchase new war aircraft to destroy the LTTE air wing, Mr. Amaratunga said more money would have to be printed for this purpose.
`Earlier, the government printed some Rs.38 billion. If they print money again, there will be grave economic repercussions. The government can find funds for this purpose easily if they reduce the number of ministerial portfolios and eradicate corruption in the ministries. In the meantime, they should stop large delegations going on unnecessary foreign jaunts,` he said.
Mr. Amaratunga said the government should not waste any time in taking steps to destroy the LTTE air capabilities without underestimating it.