Friday, 9 January 2004  
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PM's statement ludicrous, says prelate

Katugastota Group Correspondent

Lekakadhikari of the Asgiriya Chapter of the Siyam Maha Nikaya Prof. Warakawe Dhammaloka Thera yesterday dismissed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's argument that he cannot carry on the peace process without the Defence Ministry as a ludicrous statement.

Commenting on the Prime Minister's statement that he cannot resume peace talks without getting back the Defence Ministry from the President, the prelate said their fervent opinion was that the Prime Minister was using the Peace process as a trump card to get back the three ministries from the President.

Ven. Prof Dhammaloka said Section 78 of the Constitution has clearly laid down that the subject of Defence should be directly under the President's purview.

"One could not understand why Mr. Wickremesinghe who had been among those who contributed towards the framing of the present constitution was now demanding that the President should give away the Defence portfolio", the prelate said.

Ven. Prof. Dhammaloka said for that matter the Defence Minister had not attended the peace talks anytime during the last two years. What the Defence Minister had done was to look after the security of the state while a government appointed team of delegates conducted the peace talks with the LTTE representatives, he said.

A similar practice was being adopted by the LTTE too. While the LTTE political wing conducted the peace talks with the government, their military wing was conducting military training to face a possible war situation, he said.

Therefore when the President was ready to give the Prime Minister all the powers to carry on the peace process it was not good statesmanship on the part of the Prime Minister to leave the peace process and wait for the LTTE to resume the war, the prelate said.

The urgent need today was for all politicians to place the country first and make a joint endeavour to usher in peace through a lasting political solution to the ethnic war that had carried so much devastation.

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