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Humanitarian issues need solutions first

2014 Jul 09

By Ananth Palakidnar
Leader of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), R. Sampanthan, told South African Vice
President Cyril Ramaphosa, there were several humanitarian issues to be addressed
before the beginning of a healthy process to reach a political settlement in Sri Lanka.
Sampanthan’s TNA delegation met Ramaphosa’s delegation over breakfast at the Taj Samudra yesterday. The meeting commenced at 7.15 a.m. and ended an hour later.
The TNA leader was accompanied by Parliamentarians Suresh Premachandran, Mavai Senathiraja and M. A. Sumanthiran.
Sampanthan also explained that the TNA had participated in several rounds of talks with the government and had refused to take part in the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) before certain issues between the two sides were sorted out.
Welcoming the new South African initiative in the Lankan peace process, Sampanthan explained the unresolved humanitarian problems in the North and East and said thousands of families in the North and East still remained in pathetic conditions without being resettled in their original places. As the TNA represents the majority of people in the North and East, settling their humanitarian issues should be given priority.
Ramaphosa, responding to the TNA leader, said they had embarked on this facilitation process on the request made by the Lankan President when he met SA President Jacob Zuma who visited Sri Lanka for the Commenwealth Summit last year.
Ramaphosa said he was happy to share with Sri Lanka South Africa’s experience in ending apartheid.
Following the meeting with the TNA leader, the South African Vice President and his entourage flew in a special Sri Lanka Air Force helicopter to Jaffna where and were received at the Duraiappah stadium by Northern Governor G.A.Chandrasiri and Minister Douglas Devananda.
Later, the SA Vice President met Northern Province Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran at Tilco Hotel, where the South African delegation was briefed on the post-war situation in the North.
When Wigneswaran explained that the government was reluctant to implement the 13th Amendment, Ramaphosa’s response was that Wignesawaran, being a former Judge of the Supreme Court, could very well take legal action over the non-implementation of the 13th Amendment.
However, Wigneswaran, had said with the introduction of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, the President has more powers over the judicial system and with the present Chief Justice being a former advisor to the President, his efforts would be futile. Wigneswaran also explained about the military presence in the North and issues with regard to land acquisition.
Ramaphosa also met the Northern Governor, Minister Douglas Devananda and the Jaffna Security Forces Commander Major General Udaya Perera and discussed various post –war issues.

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