11th April, 2004 Volume 10, Issue 39
pledges a dharmarajya
Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema
Chandrika Kumaratunga last week agreed to govern Sri Lanka as a
dharmarajya and invited the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) to join the United
People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) government and give it a stable majority
President made her pledge and extended the invitation to the JHU at a
confidential meeting held at BMICH on Thursday at 9:30 p.m. The meeting
was held between the President and the six members of the Supreme Sangha
Council of the JHU, Ven. Ellawala Medhananda Nayaka Thero, Ven. Uduwe
Dhammaloka Thero, Ven. Kolonnawe Sri Sumangala Thero, Ven. Athuraliye
Rathana Thero, Ven. Omalpe Sobhitha Nayaka Thero and Ven. Kotapola
meeting was to be originally held at the Asapuwa at Sulaiman Terrace,
Colombo 5, but was later shifted due to security reasons cited by the
President. The meeting followed extensive discussions Presidential Adviser
Mano Tittawela had with the JHU.
Sunday Leader learns that the President has also agreed to have parallel
peace talks, one with the LTTE and the other with civic groups and
political parties to arrive at a solution to the ethnic conflict.
Dhammaloka Thero said the JHU informed the President their support would
be subject to the government ensuring a unitary state of Sri Lanka, an
immediate demerger of the north and east, introduction of laws to ban
unethical conversions within two months, the appointment of an independent
media commission to monitor the state media, and the strengthening of
independent commissions introduced under the 17th amendment.
President it is learnt had in exchange solicited the support of the JHU
for the election of alliance nominees for the posts of speaker and deputy
speaker of parliament. Kumaratunga had told the monks that former Prime
Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake will be nominated by the alliance for
the speaker's post.
President Kumaratunga and Wickremanayake were at the center of a
controversy earlier over a multi million-dollar fraud at the Rubber
Manufacturing Corporation, which is under CID investigation.
statement has already been recorded in the course of this investigation
and a senior JHU member said it was unlikely the Buddhist monks would even
consider supporting the candidature of an individual even remotely
connected to a fraud investigation.
President at the meeting had also solicited the support of the JHU for the
government's budget and the introduction of a new constitution through the
mechanism of a constituent assembly.
Secretary and Colombo District Leader, JHU, Ven. Uduwe Dhammaloka
confirmed to The Sunday Leader that the meeting with President Kumaratunga
did take place and that she invited the JHU to join the government
pledging to govern Sri Lanka as a dharmarajya in addition to soliciting
their support on the election of speaker, passing the budget and to
introduce a new constitution.
JHU had however declined the President's invitation to join the government
and said it would function independently and decide each issue on its
President requested us to support the alliance on its nominees for the
posts of speaker and deputy speaker and we asked her to first submit the
names to us. Depending on the individual we would then decide on whether
to support the respective nominee or not," Ven. Dhammaloka Thero
Dhammaloka Thero said that having understood the JHU's stance on the peace
process and the LTTE's representation, the President had proposed to
introduce parallel peace talks in order to involve civic groups in the
process as well.
LTTE is not the sole representative of the Tamil people and we have said
it clearly to the President. Other Tamil parties too should be involved in
the process and the President understands that," Ven. Dhammaloka
for supporting a budget presented by the alliance government, Ven.
Dhammaloka Thero said, "If the President governs the country
according to a dharmarajya we would support its proposals. However, we
must first see how the going is."
Dhammaloka Thero also said that the JHU would support the introduction of
a constituent assembly in order to bring in a new constitution. However,
he reiterated that the JHU too should be represented in such an assembly.
and Kalutara District Leader, JHU, Ven. Athuraliye Rathana Thero also
shared the same sentiments, adding that the JHU would function as advisers
in case there would be a threat of a plot to topple the government.
Rathana Thero said they also took the opportunity to remind the President
of the despicable manner in which the state media carried out a
vilification campaign against the JHU during the elections. The President,
the Thero said, had apologised for the conduct of the state media stating
she was unaware of their conduct.
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