The appointment of a Parliamentary Select Committee on a political solution to the ethnic problem was by no means a delaying tactic, but one that sought to obtain the concurrence of Parliament for any decision made, said President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
He was responding to a question raised at the meeting with editors of the local media at Temple Trees yesterday.
He said it was the view of many party leaders and MPs that the search for a solution should not be confined to discussions with one party. They saw they need to give an opportunity to Parliament, comprising all parties and groups within it, to consider a solution.
The Select Committee can work out a time frame to reach its conclusion. It will ensure collective responsibility of Parliament, and give ear to the concerns of all parties. This was a means of strengthening Parliament too, the President added.
“I will accept any decision or proposal given by Parliament. That is the proper democratic approach and recognises that fact that a final decision should come from Parliament,” he said.
Minister of External Affairs Prof. G. L. Peiris said that far from being a delaying tactic, the Select Committee procedure would in fact expedite the matter. Talks are already on with TNA. The 7th round of such talks is due next. It would be a delay if one waits for these talks to conclude to present a result to Parliament. What is considered by the Select Committee method is parallel activity. The process would be concurrent and not successive. It would amount to a telescoping of two consultative processes, the Minister said.
President Rajapaksa responding to questions on the need for the Select Committee in view of earlier reports of All Party Conference, the Vitharana Report etc., said that some parties did not participate in the All Party Conference. The Vitharana Report was not a final report. The conditions have since changed and a fresh parliamentary election has been held with a renewed mandate.
When asked what the position would be if TNA does not participate in the Select Committee, the President asked how they [TNA] could trust him if they cannot trust Parliament. The President emphasised it is often said the powers of Parliament should be recognised and this is exactly what is intended by the Select Committee.
The final decision would have to be made by Parliament in keeping with democratic practice and I would accept it, the President said.