|Friday, 9 January 2004|
President should take responsibility for MoU - LSSP
The Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP) in a press release issued yesterday called upon the President to take responsibility for the implementation of the MoU signed by Government with the LTTE.
"The LSSP does not see any validity in the position that the exit of the Prime Minister from direct involvement in the peace process calls for a revision of the Ceasefire MoU," said the press release.
In view of the necessity of a special vote in Parliament for constitutional amendments, "there is no alternative to parties reaching consensus on the parameters of the political solution that is to be negotiated with the LTTE," it added.
"The Lanka Sama Samaja Party recognizes that the President's take over of Ministerial responsibility for the enforcement of the conditions of the Ceasefire MoU has allayed the growing anxiety in several quarters about reported infringements of the MoU by LTTE cadre. Had this move not been made by the President perhaps the entire Peace Project would have been jeopardized.
The President's take over of the respective Ministries however left open the question of overall responsibility for the peace process as a whole.
This is a matter that could have been settled as between the President and the Prime Minister who together with the rest of the Cabinet of Ministers constitute the Executive as provided for in the Constitution.
"The country has just learnt of the Prime Minister's decision that he would not hold himself responsible for the further conduct of the peace process.
The LSSP appreciates the President's conduct in this matter when she offered to vest in the Prime Minister all necessary powers to conduct the negotiations with the LTTE.
The LSSP sees that this is a call she is entitled to make in accordance with her powers and functions as given in the Constitution of Sri Lanka. She is not only the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.
She is also "the head of the State, the head of the Executive and of the Government." In the performance of the functions attached to her office the President is entitled to call upon the Prime Minister to take such steps as suit the Government.
His failure to do so would leave both parties with certain extreme options open to them. The LSSP however cautions them against extreme and "no return" measurers and urges them to take such steps as would help settle this dispute that has occurred within the Executive.
"Misconceptions were introduced into its understanding of the Constitution when the Party commanding the majority in Parliament made the misconceived distinction that it constitutes the Government and the President is only the Executive. In the LSSP's view it is this line of thinking that endangered the proper conduct of the peace process.
This prevented the UNF majority in Parliament from honouring their pledge of cohabitation which was part of the mandate they won at the last election.
The LSSP does not see any validity in the position that the exit of the Prime Minister from direct involvement in the peace process calls for a revision of the Ceasefire MoU. That MoU was signed by the Prime Minister on behalf of the Government of which the President is the head. She is as much bound by the MoU as he is.
"The LSSP notes that the President has the confidence of the people in the course she has already taken to ensure the ceasefire terms are strictly adhered to. The further stage in the process would of course be the conduct of negotiations with the LTTE on the needed political solution.
The LSSP commends to both President and Prime Minister that they reach agreement on the political solution on which negotiations with the LTTE should commence. Such agreement obviates discussion of the Interim Administration which the LTTE has put on the table on the assumption that these two parties cannot agree among themselves on the political solution they would offer.
"It is in these circumstances that the LSSP feels it appropriate to call upon the President to take responsibility for the implementation of the MoU. Taking into consideration the end result which is the need to obtain the special vote in Parliament for the needed constitutional amendment there is no alternative to parties reaching consensus on the parameters of the political solution that is to be negotiated with the LTTE.
The President and the Prime Minister are both possessed of the qualities of leadership and the political experience that are required in the task they are called upon to accomplish.
On what they set out together to accomplish they are certain to receive the overwhelming support of the people."
Produced by Lake House