UNP to educate masses on the pluses of federalism

By Vindya Amaranayake
The United National Party is planning to set in motion a series of programmes to promote federalism among the party members and the general public, party national organiser S. B. Dissanayake said yesterday.
Dissanayake said that as a party the UNP always believed in federalism and its possible contribution as a solution to the ethnic problem. “We are planning to set in motion a programme to inform the public of federalism and why we should seriously consider adopting its principles in Sri Lanka,” he said.
“We have always been for the concept of federalism and we have always believed that it is a viable solution to most of the problems we are facing today. Especially with regard to the ethnic problem federalism is one of the main aspects that we should consider when considering negotiations with the LTTE,” Dissanayake said.
He added that federalism is an important democratic concept but even within the UNP there is no consensus regarding the positive elements of this concept, “We are planning to organise seminars to educate the party members.”
Dissanayake pointed out that people of this country do not have a positive view of federalism mainly because they have been misinformed of what it entails. Also certain political elements in the country have made it to be a monster, people are even afraid of the term.
He added, “Also, we are strongly behind the movement mobilised by the TNA and the members of the National Anti-War Front and other political and civil society organisations.” He said the UNP is strongly against the abductions, killings and ransom demands from the Tamil citizens of this country. “We demand that these things should stop immediately,” he said.
Democratic New Left Front leader Vasudeva Nanayakkara, speaking of the need for federalism in Sri Lanka said, “For us federalism is not a new concept and we do not need new movements to promote it. We have always believed that the ethnic conflict can be solved only with a federal concept. We have said that before and will say that now too.” He added that DNLF consisting of five parties stand closely by the concept of federalism. Pointing out the current engagements to promote federalism Nanayakkara said that they are mainly concerned about making the All Party Conference more inclusive. “Since it is an All Party Conference, it is important to get the support of all the parties represented in the parliament. The talks between the SLFP and the UNP are extremely vital for the current political situation in the country,” he said.