TNA disappointed with Prez over lack of progress

At a meeting held yesterday (5) at the Presidential Secretariat between the Tamil

National Alliance (TNA) and Government representatives, including President

Ranil Wickremesinghe and Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, the TNA

expressed dissatisfaction regarding the lack of progress pertaining to the release

of Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act (PTA) prisoners and the

lands originally owned by Tamils that are occupied by security forces.

Speaking to The Morning, TNA Spokesman and MP President’s Counsel (PC) M.A.

Sumanthiran said yesterday that there has been no progress in addressing the

release of PTA prisoners and lands owned by Tamils. “They are telling us the very

same thing that they told us on 21 December 2022. That was discouraging.”

However, Sumanthiran said that he would submit documents on what needs to be

done to implement the current Constitutional provisions with regard to power

devolution as well as on what needs to be achieved for a permanent political


“They will discuss the issues on 10 January, during which they said they will come

to an agreement. If there is no agreement by 10 January and if there is no

progress on the immediate issues, then we will have to reconsider our continuous

participation in this process. Nevertheless, since we are discussing Constitutional

issues, I will provide a note that doesn’t require any Constitutional amendment

regarding the implementation of the current Constitutional provisions. Also,

another note will be provided with regard to what had been agreed upon

previously. When we meet on 10 January, there must be an agreement on that. If that does not happen and if there is no progress on the other matters also, then

we will have to reconsider our continued participation.”

TNA Leader and MP Attorney R. Sampanthan, Sumanthiran, MPs Dharmalingam

Siddarthan and Selvam Adaikkalanathan participated in this discussion, with

President Wickremesinghe, Premier Gunawardena, Minister of Justice, Prisons

Affairs, and Constitutional Reforms Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe PC and Minister of

Fisheries Douglas Devananda representing the Government,.

Meanwhile, during a meeting held at the Presidential Secretariat on 21 December

2022, between the same representatives, the release of 14 PTA prisoners by 4

February 2023 on Presidential pardons, was discussed. Speaking to The Morning

on 21 December, Sumanthiran said that during the meeting, issues of PTA

prisoners, the release of lands, and Constitutional issues were discussed. “There

are 31 PTA prisoners, out of whom 14 are convicted. It was discussed to consider

their release on Presidential pardons by 4 February 2023. The cases of the rest of

the prisoners are underway. Also, arrangements have to be made and victims

need to be consulted before their release,” he added. Sumanthiran also said that

during the discussion, the release of some lands was also considered, following

discussions at the National Security Council meetings in January 2023. “We will be

meeting again on 5 January 2023, to prepare an agenda on the Constitutional

issues, following which there will be meetings scheduled to be held from 10-13

January 2023,” he added.

Sumanthiran PC, on 14 December 2022, speaking during the all-party conference,

urged President Wickremesinghe to finalise the draft Constitution created in

January 2019.

President Wickremesinghe stated at the said all-party conference that he will hold

discussions with Opposition and Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) Leader Sajith

Premadasa in January 2023 with regard to the report on Constitutional reforms

submitted by a committee led by Romesh De Silva PC.