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Drop obsession with the word federalism says Sampanthan

Tamils should not be obsessed with words such as federalism, the TNA leader and leader of the Opposition, R. Sampanthan, has said, adding that a political solution may or may not come.

At a meeting of Tamil newspaper editors held at his working residence, the party leader said that while there may not be 100% satisfaction with the new constitution, it would still be an improvement.

“We must act carefully,” he said. “Both the President Maithripala Sirisena and the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe must lead their party members correctly and properly. The important junctures are still ahead.”

“Having two thirds majority in parliament, we cannot let the opportunity to win a referendum go. We must deal with the issues carefully and skilfully. We must shut our mouths and move on the issues.”

Mr Sampanthan said that while the 13th Amendment would not be a final solution, Tamils could not reject it completely, stating that India was responsible for assuring Tamil rights on the island.

“India cannot abandon us. It won’t abandon us,” he said.

“Even if we do not agree on the 13th Amendment, we cannot reject it completely. But that is also not our final solution. The Sri Lanka Freedom Party has conformed to dropping the unitary state in the new constitution. We have advanced from the 13th Amendment. Even if there is not 100% satisfaction in the new constitution, there will be so many improvements in it.”

Urging Tamils to stop hanging on to mere words such as federalism he said, “we must not be hanging on to words like federalism. In many countries across the world, power is shared without any name [given to the arrangement]. We must not miss the chance we have gotten.”

However the party leader stated “we won’t sell out the Tamil people. We will not pawn our people’s rights. Both the President and the Prime Minister know this. We will accept the solution that the people accept.”

Mr Sampanthan also commented on his meeting with former Sri Lankan president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, saying:

“I spoke to Mahinda about the constitution. I pointed out that he had provided many assurances to India about a solution for the Tamil people. I also said that he hadn’t fulfilled any of those.”