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Agreement with opposition JVP wonít affect peace process or economic progress
[September 6, 2001 - 12:40 GMT]

Sri Lankaís President Kumaratunga stated that the peace process with Norwegian mediation would continue. It had been temporarily halted on a request by the LTTE to the Norwegian government that the process should be suspended citing political instability in the country.

She was allaying fears expressed in some quarters that the new political understanding with the opposition JVP would stifle efforts to negotiate peace with the LTTE who are fighting government forces in the north and east of the country.

ďSome people have even expressed the fear that the JVP might use undue influence and disrupt the commercial sector. This we have discussed and they have agreed they would not do so.Ē President Chandrika Kumaratunga said in an interview telecast over national television Wednesday night.

The Presidentís comments in Sinhala followed Wednesdayís agreement signed by the ruling Peoplesí Alliance and the opposition Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna aimed at ending the political instability of the past two months. An interview with the President in English is due to be telecast Thursday.

Secretary of the Peoplesí Alliance Minister D. M. Jayaratne and Tilvin Silva signed the agreement on behalf of their respective parties.

The full text of the MOU is as follows:

Memorandum of Understanding

Memorandum of Understanding reached between Mr. D. M. Jayaratne, Secretary of the Peoplesí Alliance on behalf of the Peoplesí Alliance on one part and Mr. Tilvin Silva, Secretary of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna on behalf of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna on the other on this 5th Day of September, 2001 at Colombo.

The two parties stand bound by the following agreements and conditions, namely; 

1. The period of validity of this Memorandum of Understanding will be only one complete year beginning on 5th September, 2001 and ending on 4th September, 2002. 

(I) If the Peoples" Alliance intends to take policy decisions or courses of action outside of these agreements that conflict with or have an effect contrary to them, the Peoplesí Alliance as one party to the agreement, agrees to obtain the prior concurrence of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna the other party to the agreement on all occasions they intend to take such decisions or courses of action. 

(II) The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna agrees not to launch on any course of action that tends directly to destabilise or topple the Peoplesí Alliance Government during the period of this Memorandum of Understanding or its period of proper implementation. The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna agrees to extend the necessary support to the continuance of the Peoples' Alliance Government with stability in Parliament during this period. 

3. The Peoplesí Alliance should immediately cancel the Referendum that was first scheduled to be held on August 21, 2001 as announced by the President by the Government Gazette No. 1192/16 and later postponed to October 18, 2001 by Government Gazette No. 1196/18. (This Referendum has already been cancelled.) 

4. The Peoples' Alliance should reconvene on or before September 6, 2001 the Parliament of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka prorogued by direction of the President by the Government Gazette bearing No. 1192/16. (Parliament has already been reconvened) 

5. The Peoples' Alliance agrees to have passed by Parliament the proposed 17th amendment to the Constitution drafted with the full agreement of all the parties of the Opposition included in the schedule to this Memorandum providing for the creation of the following institutions, subject to essential amendments acceptable to both parties to the Memorandum of Understanding, on or before September 24, 2001: 

a) Constitutional Council 

b) Independent Public Service Commission 

C) Independent Judicial Service Commission 

d) Independent Election Commission and

e) Independent Police Commission 

The Constitutional Council should be established before October 5, 2001. 

6. The two parties to the Memorandum of Understanding agree to prepare legislation to establish an Independent Media Commission within six months from the date hereof. 

7. The two parties to the Memorandum of Understanding agree to present to Parliament within six months from the date hereof amendments to the Constitution for abolition of the Executive Presidency and vesting executive power in Parliament and the formulation and adoption of an electoral system which ensures reasonable representation of all ethnic groups in Parliament and for holding of the General Election under a care-taker Government. This condition applies to the first General Election that will be held after this amendment to the Constitution. 

8. During the period of validity of this Memorandum of Understanding: 

a) Steps should be taken to prevent rises of prices or cost of essential consumer commodities and services such as fuel, milk powder, sugar, flour, rice, drugs, electricity, gas, water, bus and train fares. When costs of other goods or services increase due to external reasons, the Government should intervene and take measures to control same to the maximum possible extent,

b) If there are plans to privatise public or social property such as water resources, banks, insurance ventures, the Peoplesí Alliance agrees to withhold such action during the one year period this Memorandum of Understanding remains valid, and 

c) Excepting monetary agreements already entered into and those to be signed in consequence of them, not to enter into trade agreements or financial agreements that could be detrimental to the interests of the country. 

9. In the same manner as after the 1994 General Elections Her Excellency the    President wrote-off cultivation loans amounting to Rs.6000 million given to farmers and repayment of which had gone into arrears the Peoplesí Alliance Government will take action before September 30, 2001 to write-off loans given to farmers from the Maha season of 1999/2000 to the Yala season of 2001 at rates ranging up to Ps.20, 000/- to each (inclusive of the full amount of Rs.20, 000/-) for paddy and plantain cultivation. Further, the Peoplesí Alliance Government will take action to properly look into the position of other loans different in category and amount to these loans and afford any possible relief to the farmers in respect of them. 

10. The Peoplesí Alliance agrees to appoint a Task Force with full authority to investigate persons or institutions who had obtained large scale loans for business purposes and thereafter neglected repayment of such loans, and the reasons for such neglect and to recover such outstanding monies in terms of the recommendations of the Task Force within three months of entering into this Memorandum of Understanding. 

11. The Peoplesí Alliance agrees to appoint a Select Committee representing all Political Parties represented in Parliament with a view to finding short term solutions to problems faced by local industrialists and businessmen and to take action within three months of entering into this Memorandum of Understanding to rehabilitate such ventures taking into consideration recommendations of such Select Committee, made after a wide consultation of the views of relevant parties.

12. The two parties agree to appoint Committees of persons with specialist knowledge and experience in respect of the subjects of all Ministries on a basis of consensus, before the lapse of two months from the date of entering into this Memorandum of Understanding. 

13. The Peoples' Alliance agrees to remitting voluntarily by the President, Members of the Cabinet of Ministers, Deputy Ministers and Members of Parliament to the Consolidated Fund half their salary during the whole period of validity of this Memorandum of Understanding and to make available monthly to both parties to the Memorandum of Understanding reports on such remittances through the Ministry of Finance.

14. The two parties agree to embark upon the following measures, namely: 

(a) To impose a ceiling on travelling abroad of both Ministers and Members of Parliament and Officials at state expense as has already been done. 

(b) To impose a ban on the importation of luxury vehicles for Ministers and higher officials (The Peoplesí Alliance emphatically states that this practice is already in operation in relation to both Ministers and officials). 

(c) To impose a ceiling on the fuel allowance currently given to Ministers and Members of Parliament and higher officials as is the practice already adopted. 

(d) To find suitable alternate buildings at lesser cost to the Government for the Ministries and State Institutions, if they are presently housed in buildings on payment of high rentals by the Government in spite of the availability of buildings at cheaper rates with adequate facilities.

(e) Not to incur any expenditure, during the one year period the Memorandum of Understanding is in force, on construction work on the Presidentís House which is now in progress.

Both parties also agree to appoint a panel comprising representatives of both parties to ensure conformity with the aforesaid matters.

15. The Peoplesí Alliance agrees to restrict the number of Cabinet Ministers to 20 and appoint a corresponding number of Deputy Ministers and not to create "Project Ministries" or portfolios to be otherwise designated other than the portfolios and Ministerships that are mentioned herein, during the one year period the Memorandum of Understanding is in force.

The Peoples' Alliance agrees to carry out the above-mentioned changes to be effected in the portfolios and the Deputy Ministerships within one week after this Memorandum of Understanding is signed ie, on or before 12th day of September 2001. 

16. The Peoplesí Alliance agrees to appoint and operationalize within one month after this Memorandum of Understanding is signed, a panel with full powers to ensure prevention of fraud and corruption in the purchases to be made by the Government including armaments, aircraft etc. 

17. The Peoplesí Alliance also agrees to appoint a Committee comprising representatives of leading Trade Unions to look into the matters relating to the ILO conventions that have already been ratified but are no longer in force in Sri Lanka and submit recommendations for the preparation of draft legislation on such conventions and also look into matters relating to the Labour Laws that are already in force in Sri Lanka but are not being effectively imposed and make recommendations relating thereto. It is agreed by the Peoplesí Alliance to frame legislation on the recommendations of this Committee and place such legislation on the statute book during the one year period this Memorandum of Understanding is in force.

18. The Peoplesí Alliance agrees to adhere to a policy of transparency during the period this Memorandum of Understanding is in force to ensure that all appointments, promotions and transfers by the Government are effected without any discrimination with regard to nationality, religion, sex, party politics etc. 

19. The Peoples' Alliance agrees to initiate speedy measures to take into custody all illegal firearms that are in the possession of individuals and underworld gangs and thereby ensure the prevention of crimes. 

20. The Peoplesí Alliance agrees not to bring in during the one year this Memorandum of Understanding is in force, proposals for devolution of power or any other proposals that may lead to a controversy until such time that a broad consensus is arrived at through a wide-ranging dialogue with the participation of all segments of society aimed at reaching a reasonable resolution of the national question. 

21. The Peoplesí Alliance agrees to appoint a Task Force with full powers that could intervene in the matter of amelioration of the living conditions of the people belonging to all communities: 

Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim who were reduced to destitution and are undergoing untold hardship due to the on-going war and to ensure the up-liftment of their social lives. It is also agreed by the Peoples' Alliance to enhance the quantum of relief allowance currently being granted. 

22. During the period of this Memorandum of Understanding is in force, the Peoples' Alliance agrees -

(a) To suspend all plans drawn up for the privatization of education (The Peoplesí Alliance emphatically states that there are no such proposals under contemplation). 

(b) Not to grant permission for the establishment of private universities (The Peoples' Alliance emphatically states that this is already the accepted policy). 

(c) To appoint a panel comprising academics, including University lecturers, to make such recommendations as are deemed necessary to expand the national university system and ensure its qualitative development. 

23. The Peoples' Alliance agrees to dissolve Parliament on completion of the one year period after this Memorandum of Understanding is signed and conduct a free and fair election under the new electoral system and the care-taker Government that is to be set up in terms of this Memorandum of Understanding. 

24. The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna further agrees to the following lines of action. 

(a) The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna agrees to extend necessary support to the Peoples' Alliance in Parliament on all occasions to sustain a stable government during the one-year period. 

(b) The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna agrees to contribute to the political stability which is so necessary to ensure the economic stability of the country. 

(c) The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna agrees not to support any subversive line of action to be adopted by other parties that may result in paralyzing the government and the economy. (The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna emphasizes that they have already adopted this stance) - 

25. It is obligatory on the part of both parties to carry out severally and collectively the aforesaid agreements within the agreed time frames. In the event of either of the parties not taking steps to carry out any of the several items agreed to, within the specified time frames, and if it is also not found possible for one party to negotiate and arrive at an agreement by prior notice in writing being given to the other party, both parties agree that either party shall have the right to withdraw from this Memorandum of Understanding. 

26. Both parties agree to appoint a supervisory panel comprising Chief Buddhist Monks, other Religious Dignitaries, Trade Union representatives, representatives of the Business Community and representatives of professionals, artistes and media personnel to monitor the performance of the aforesaid agreements and develop modalities for the supervisory mechanism above-referred to. 

27. If any dispute arises with regard to the interpretation of any clause or wordings of the agreement, both parties shall have discussions among themselves with regard to the interpretation thereof and arrive at a final decision by consensus. 

28. Both parties agree that any clause or clauses of this Memorandum of Understanding may be amended or fresh clauses incorporated by mutual agreement if it is deemed necessary to do so. 

Done in Colombo on this fifth day of September 2001.

D. M. Jayaratne      Tilvin Silva
Secretary/Peoples' Alliance Secretary/Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna

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Last Updated Date: September 6, 2001  - 12.40 GMT.