The need for consensus
The proposed meeting between
President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Opposition Leader Ranil
Wickremesinghe to discuss current developments would no doubt be
welcomed by the public at large in the current context. This
follows a meeting between Prime Minister Ratnasiri
Wickramanayaka and the Opposition Leader.
The forging of a national consensus to deal with the
multifaceted challenges confronting the nation has today assumed
greater importance more than at any other time in the country's
post independence history. This is more so with regard to the
national question which has defied a solution all these years
chiefly due to party politics.
Addressing media heads at Temple Trees on Tuesday the
President said he would soon brief the Opposition Leader on
current developments including the Wanni humanitarian mission
and efforts to evolve a political solution. As he said, the UNP
could have made a more positive contribution by participating in
the All Party Conference.
It is hoped that the Opposition Leader would avail of this
opportunity to make a positive contribution particularly in
respect of efforts to arrive at a political solution to the
current conflict. It is also hoped that this would be the
beginning of a continuing dialogue for consensus building on all
national issues between the two major political parties.
We have time and again in these columns advocated the need
for unity by the country's two major political parties if we are
to successfully deal with the national question. Lack of trust
had right along proved to be the bugbear to bring about this
unity and the forging of a consensus.
This political brinkmanship has to be stopped at least now
when there is a distinct possibility of the war being brought to
an end paving the way for a political solution.
The time has come for all major political parties to put
behind their differences and respond to the rallying call of the
nation at this crucial phase in our history.
It is time the country's political leadership acted
decisively and not pass on the conflict into the future leaving
it to the next generation. This calls for mature leadership on
all sides. There could be no more opportune time than this for
We say this is because there are at long last positive signs
on in the horizon that the decades long conflict is reaching an
end. Very soon those who had been advocating a political
solution would be provided with that opportunity with the
crushing of terrorism.
The UNP which has been in the thick of things vis-a-vis the
ethnic conflict could well provide valuable inputs paving the
way for a strong consensus. As a party with vast experience in
dealing with the problem its voice will also carry weight.
It is in this context that one can't fathom the party
decision to withdraw from the consultative process of the APRC
forum. After all it is the UNP who was instrumental is setting
up political forums with the hope of reaching this consensus.
The first All Party Conference was its own creation.
There were also other bodies such as the Mangala Moonesinghe
Committee vested with the task of thrashing out a solution. The
UNP can no longer afford to dwell on the fringes and place the
ball in the Government's court to come out with a solution.
It would soon have to make up its mind and there is no better
and opportune time as the present one.
It need not fear of the credit going to the Government for
any workable solution. This is because it(the UNP) would be an
integral part of this solution when legislation is passed in
Parliament. Both the ruling party and the UNP are on the same
wavelength when it comes to a political solution.
It is time therefore the UNP and its leader did the right
thing now that the ideal groundwork is being laid for a
political solution as a complement to the military success.