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Doom and gloom

It is all doom and gloom that surround us, the exhilarating ‘Deya Kirula’ ceremony at Weerawila on Sunday notwithstanding. Killings and armed clashes are going on unabated while floods and landslides ravage around the country rendering thousands of people homeless and destitute. President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s speech at the Weerawila ceremony that he had strictly adhered to the ‘Mahinda Chintana’ was impressive no doubt. But what was more important was his avowal to continue in his effort to find a negotiated settlement of the North-East conflict.

While the government is thus presenting budgets, inaugurating ambitious projects, expressing fond hopes about achieving rapid economic progress, on the other side of the fence, the UNP is embroiled in serious internal conflict. It held its 60th Annual Convention with an important section of its members boycotting the event.

The newly elected General Secretary Tissa Attanayake says that there was no official communication to the party about the dissidents’ boycott of the convention, while the dissidents say that they had informed UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe about their non-attendance.

At their press briefing the dissidents have said that they had no intention of deposing their leader, but the thrust of their exercise was to save the party they loved so much. Their statements are reminiscent of what Brutus said having assassinated Julius Caesar. Brutus said, "If there be any in this assembly, any dear friend of Caesar’s, to him I say that Brutus’ love to Caesar was no less than his. If then that friend demands why Brutus rose against Caesar, this is my answer: Not that I lov’d Caesar less, but that I lov’d Rome more." The future events will show us whether this love will have the effect of destroying both.

It was, however, evident that the vast majority in the party had stood by its leader and the convention has been conducted without a mishap. It was encouraging that the members have approved theMoU the party had signed with the SLFP and decided to stand by it faithfully. We hope that the dissidents will come back and fall in line with the majority in the party who also have shown their keenness in adopting the required party reforms. The leader himself has promised to convene a special convention within 100 days to get the remaining proposals approved- it is hoped that the leader will go ahead with reforms as promised.

What seems to be thwarting attempts at reconciliation are the personal ambitions and agendas that some are suspected to be promoting. So the abnegation of these ambitions in the party’s interest has become essential for any progress in restoring party unity.

What appears as a glimmer of hope amid the prevailing doom and gloom is the news about the finalisation of the set of proposals by the experts panel of the All Party Conference. It has been revealed that a set of proposals envisaging internal self-determination, devolution of power and electoral reforms, is being finalized by this panel now and it will be presented to the Representatives Committee of the APC shortly.

The move to get experts on constitutional matters to prepare a framework for the resolution of the North-East conflict was indeed a positive step. The proposals once formulated would serve as a basis for discussion and acceptance at the APC conference.

The view expressed on this matter by Leader of the Opposition and UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe holds out hope that it would be possible for the parties to proceed with the process set afloat to a successful conclusion.

Wickremesinghe has said at the convention that his party would consider the proposals of the experts panel when they come before the APC and make their own contributions to make them acceptable to all parties concerned.

It is quite possible that the proposals may fail to satisfy the LTTE if it is not prepared to come down from their irreconcilable ambitions. The effort should be get the majority political opinion to back the common proposals. -Daily Mirror Editorial

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November 21, 2006 - Posted by | Media Journalism, News and politics, South Asia

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