Demand to merge N-E unrealistic - Ajith P. Perera

The main demand of the Tamil parties, the merger of the Northern and the Eastern provinces under the new Constitution, will be impossible to fulfill, Power and Renewable Energy Deputy Minister Ajith P. Perera told the Sunday Observer yesterday.

A member of the Law and Order subcommittee of the Constitutional Steering Committee, Perera said even if the political parties give the go-ahead for a merger, this proposal will be shot down by the people at a referendum. A new Constitution, to become law, requires a two-thirds majority in Parliament and people’s approval at a referendum.

“The UNP is not ready to compromise on three clauses that refer to the nature of the State, the place conferred to Buddhism and the abolition of the executive presidency,” he said.

He said the devolving of power should be within a unitary State and the UNP is also determined to make good on their election promise to do away with the executive presidency.

“We are open for discussion on all other issues including the method of electing the Prime Minister but I think the merger of the North and the East will be an unrealistic demand.”

The TNA in their election manifesto for 2015 general election, called for the merger of the two provinces. They have largely based their constitutional proposals on the same manifesto.

The key stake holders, the SLFP, JVP and the JHU have also opposed to the call of the TNA. The parties represented in the Constitutional Assembly are discussing necessary safeguards for any future eventuality that might create a situation for a merger of provinces or secession.

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