GL cries foul over govt. misusing state machinery to fight election

By Rathindra Kuruwita

None of the actions and initiatives of the Ranil Wickremesinghe government are sincere and the state machinery is being blatantly misused for election purposes, MP G.L Peiris says.

The former law professor said yesterday that in recent months the government had established an independent Commission for Truth, Unity and Reconciliation and Community Advisory Committees (CAC).

“Usually, governments make these big gestures in the first 100 days of being elected. That is the honeymoon period of the government and there is ample time for the administration to see these initiatives through. However, the current administration is launching new grand initiatives left, right and centre in the last 100 days. It is obvious that this is an attempt to mislead people,” he said.

Peiris said that the government was attempting to attract the votes of ethnic minorities. Recently, the government had declared it would increase the daily wage of estate workers to Rs. 1,700, but within 24 hours the planters had threatened to take the government to court, stating that they were not consulted before taking this decision, Prof. Peiris said.

“Just like that, the discussion on Truth, Unity and Reconciliation is aimed at obtaining the votes in the North and the East. On the other hand, the government has not held Local Government or Provincial Council elections. Whom will the government discuss truth and reconciliation with? This should be done with the representatives of the people. The Provincial Council elections have not been held for around six years and the local council election was to be held last year. When the government tried to postpone the Local Government elections, we went to court, which ordered the government to release the funds that had already been earmarked from the Budget. However, the government even ignored court orders,” he said.

The MP said that the government had held several meetings with political party representatives about reconciliation and finding a political solution to the problems in the North and East. These meetings had yielded no results.

In 2010, the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) was set up to investigate the facts and circumstances which had led to the failure of the ceasefire agreement made operational on 27 February 2002, the lessons that should be learnt from those events and the institutional, administrative and legislative measures which need to be taken in order to prevent any recurrence of such concerns in the future, and to promote further national unity and reconciliation among all communities. That was followed by the Maxwell Paranagama and Udalagama Commission.

“If anything, we must study these commission reports, identify the gaps and clearly state how we should address these,” he said.

Meanwhile the CAC, appointed to oversee the Urumaya Land Ownership Programme, the Urban Home Ownership Programme, the “Kandukara Dasakaya” Development Programme, the Agriculture Modernization Programme and the Rice Distribution Programme, was most likely to be manned by SLPP and UNP politicians, he said.

“Some of them can even be candidates for the Local Government elections, which have been postponed indefinitely. Each CAC is given allocate10 million rupees. Key decisions of the CAC will be taken by the Provincial Governors who are directly appointed by the President. So, it is evident that these will be highly politicised structures,” Prof. Peiris said.

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