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Sumanthiran: President has reneged on promises

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President Ranil Wickremesinghe was adept at causing rifts in political parties, TNA MP M.A. Sumanthiran said in a television interview on Friday.The MP also said that the Tamil political parties had met the President earlier this week.

“During the meeting, I told the President that former President Mahinda Rajapaksa had promised India three times that he would fully implement the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. President Rajapaksa said that he would make devolution meaningful. When Wickremesinghe was Prime Minister, between 2015 and 2019, he also agreed to go beyond 13A,” he added.

MP Sumanthiran said he told the President that both the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) and the United National Party (UNP) are together now.

“Therefore, I told him that the two parties could agree to implement the 13A. Then, he said he was not Ranil Rajapaksa and he was Ranil Wickremesinghe, and he was not aware of what Mahinda Rajapaksa had promised. He also said he had presented the best solution to the problems faced by the Tamils and that the Tamil political parties have them,” Sumanthiran said.

However, there was no such proposal in existence, Sumanthiran said. The President started discussions with Tamil parties in December 2022 and said that he would fully implement 13A, Sumanthiran said. “He asked us to propose amendments to the 13A. I have presented some amendments. He agreed to consider them. There were about three meetings in January 2023. Talking about police powers, Wickremesinghe said that it could be devolved after some administrative reforms. However, he hasn’t not done anything to fulfil his promises. When we met him this week, we were told 13A would be amended but without police powers. That was his proposal. Then we said that we had agreed to go beyond 13A and now he was trying to give less. We told him that we were not agreeable to his proposal,” Sumanthiran said.

The Tamil parties had been compelled to meet Wickremesinghe as he invited them before leaving for India. If they had not done so, India would not have been happy.

“Unfortunately, Ranil wasn’t ready. The President gave us a draft on establishing a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in January 2023. We discussed it with Ministers Ali Sabry and Wijeyadasa Rajapakse. The TRC will allow people to come and tell their stories, but nothing will come out of it. We said we would not support the TRC. We told the President so. Everything he has done so far has been ticking boxes for the international community.”

MP Sumanthiran went on to say that India usually invited any Sri Lankan president for a state visit within one month of his or her assumption of duties. Gotabaya assumed duties in November 2019 and within a week he was invited to come to Delhi. However, Wickremesinghe had been in power for a year before being invited by India, Sumanthiran said.

“Sri Lanka tried to get an invitation several times. I think the Indians delayed the invitation because the President had not kept his promises to India, which isn’t happy because the government allowed a Chinese ship to come to Hambantota. So, he had to fulfil several things before India extended an invitation. The Indian Central Government is also under pressure from Tamil Nadu to solve the problems of Tamils here,” MP Sumanthiran said.

Wickremesinghe was a Cabinet Minister in the government that signed the Indo-Lanka Peace Accord, the ITAK MP said. Therefore, he must be keen to implement 13A.

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