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JO warned: stop dilly-dallying, quit constitutional making
Published Date: 06/10/2017 (Friday)

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Breakaway JVP faction, the National Freedom Front (NFF) yesterday reiterated its call for the Joint Opposition (JO) to quit the UNP-led constitutional making process immediately or face the consequences.

NFF spokesperson Mohammed Muzammil yesterday told The Island that a desperate government was taking advantage of the JO’s continuing involvement in the Geneva-led process meant to introduce a new Constitution.

Muzammil alleged that the JO was dilly-dallying and playing into the hands of those pursuing an agenda severely inimical to Sri Lanka. "We are part of the JO. But differ on current strategy," the Colombo District NFF organizer said.

In early July, 2017, NFF leader Weerawansa, in response to a query raised by The Island at a media briefing, acknowledged split in the JO over the issue. Muzammil urged the JO to quit the Constitutional Assembly as well as the Premier led Steering Committee spearheading the process.The JO comprises 55 MPs elected on the UPFA ticket at the last parliamentary polls in August 2015. However, of them five NFF members, including Weerawansa quit the Constitutional Assembly several months ago.

Muzammil said the JO should take a decision before forthcoming three-day gathering of Constitutional Assembly beginning Oct 30 to decide on constitutional proposals. "We have examined the entire set of proposals meant to undermine the country," Muzammil said, urging the JO to review its stand afresh.

Veteran politician Dinesh Gunawardena heads the JO parliamentary group loyal to former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Responding to a query, Muzammil pointed out that reports submitted by the six sub committees that dealt with fundamental rights, judiciary, law and order, public finance, public service and centre– periphery relations were meant to weaken the government. Muzammil described the subcommittee report on centre– periphery relations as the worst of the six.

Muzammil strongly disputed LSSP stalwart and UNP National List MP Dr. Jayampathy Wickramaratne’s recent claim that the proposed Constitution was far stronger in respect of safeguards in case of threats to unitary status of the country. In addition to the subjects that had been handled by the six sub committees, the Steering Steering Committee in an interim report released recently dealt with six vital subjects, nature of the state, executive, parliamentary elections, principles of devolution, religion and state land.

Muzammil alleged that the four party Tamil National Alliance (TNA), Western powers and civil society grouping that had campaigned for the change of government in January 2015 were bent on dividing the country on ethnic lines.

Dinesh Gunawardena and Prasanna Ranatunga represent the JO in the 21-member Steering Committee.

The Global Sri Lankan Forum (GSLF) has thrown its weight behind the NFF’s call.

The GSLF in a letter dated July 11 addressed to JO warned that its failure to take a decision especially in the backdrop of the maha sangha denouncing the process would certainly cause trouble.

The GSLF pointed out that maha sangha had in no uncertain terms opposed the proposed new Constitution or selected constitutional amendments to the Constitution on the basis they wouldn’t certainly be in Sri Lanka’s national interests.

National University Teachers’ Association (NUTA) too has backed the call to leave the new constitution making process.

Muzammil asserted President Sirisena’s recent claim that he hadn’t seen the interim report submitted by the Steering Committee underscored the dangers posed by the process. Pointing out that President Sirisena made the revelation a week after the parliament received the report; Muzammil said that SLFP factions seemed to be turning a blind eye to the threat.

The NFF spokesman said that the country was under pressure from Geneva to adopt a new Constitution in response to wildly exaggerated war crimes allegations never examined in a court of law, Muzammil said. The NFF spokesperson alleged that the entire Geneva process was obviously geared to foist a new Constitution on Sri Lanka at the expense of her unitary status.

The NFF said the JO should engage in fresh consultations with constituent members as well as other organizations involved with it to ensure tangible measures were taken both in and outside parliament to thwart anti-Sri Lanka project.

Source: The Island

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