[May 7, 2005 - 11.00 GMT]
President Chandrika Kumaratunga yesterday [6th May Friday] communicated her ‘regret and surprise’ in a letter to the Leader of the Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremasinghe. The President had on 29th April invited Mr. Wickremasinghe and his United National Party for a dialogue on a common program for humanitarian assistance for tsunami affected areas.
The UNP’s Chairman in his reply to the President’s Office received yesterday said “The joint Mechanism currently under discussion is a part of the peace process. When the Government approves the Joint Mechanism, the United National Party will make known its position on the matter. In view of this, there is no need to have a discussion on a common programme for implementation of humanitarian aid at this moment.
Full text of the President’s letter:
Hon. Ranil Wickremasinghe, MP,
My dear Mr. Wickremasinghe,
Developing a common program for the implementation of humanitarian efforts for tsunami affected area
I write in response to the letter dated May 6, 2005 under the hand of Mr. Malik Samarawickrema, Chairman of the UNP setting out the response of your party to the invitation to participate in a discussion chaired by me on May 9, 2005.
I wish to convey my surprise and regret at your rejection of a sincere offer to have a dialogue on an important issue of national concern, overriding party politics.
The proposal for the establishment of a Post-Tsunami Operational Management Structure (which you refer to as the 'Joint Mechanism') is in fact, not part of the peace process, as you have assumed, without even being acquainted with its contents.
It is, rather, an administrative arrangement consisting of a group of committees with the objective of ensuring a more equitable and efficient utilization of foreign aid for post-tsunami reconstruction, within a limited area of two kilometers from the coastline, in six districts of the Northern and Eastern provinces.
The LTTE has agreed that there is an urgent need for all communities to co-operate on humanitarian grounds, in the face of the common adversity and that the Government and the LTTE together with elected representatives of the affected communities, especially the Muslim people will have resolved to work together in good faith, in recognition of this humanitarian need in the six districts of Amparai, Batticaloa, Jaffna, Killinochi, Mullaitivu and Trincomalee.
With regard to the document handed to me by you on January 25, 2005 this refers to reconstruction work already being implemented by the Government with the support of others throughout the country.
The program for the implementation of reconstruction of tsunami affected areas seeks to use foreign aid allocated to address the specific needs of the affected areas in six districts of the North and East by providing for the participation of all affected communities, in an equitable and non-discriminatory structure that will be both transparent and accountable, inspiring confidence among the affected peoples and the donor community.
The deliberate avoidance of this opportunity to receive a briefing on the main features of the proposal and of contributing your views on it, in keeping with the best traditions of the democratic process, is deeply regrettable.
6th May 2005
Full text of letter from UNP’s Chairman:
Mr. P. Dissanayake
Chief of Staff & Additional Secretary
The President’s Office
Dear Mr. Dissanayake,
Developing a common programme for the implementation of humanitarian efforts for tsunami affected area
I am in receipt of your letter to Hon. Ranil Wickremasinghe, Leader of the Opposition dated 29th April 2005 inviting him to participate at a discussion to be chaired by H.E the President on 09th May 2005 at 11.00 am.
A common programme for the Implementation of the humanitarian effort for the tsunami affected areas has been already set out by Hon. Ranil Wickremasinghe in the document entitled "Making Rehabilitation Programs People Centered" addressed to H.E the President on 25th January 2005.
H.E the President has also been briefed by Hon. Ranil Wickremasinghe on this matter on the 28th of January 2005. There is nothing to be added to this proposal.
The joint Mechanism currently under discussion is a part of the peace process. When the Government approves the Joint Mechanism, the United National Party will make known its position on the matter. In view of this, there is no need to have a discussion on a common programme for implementation of humanitarian aid at this moment.
In regard to all action taken in terms of the peace process, the United National Party stands by the position it adopted at the Oslo and Tokyo meetings where any final solution must be based on a federal structure within a democratic, united Sri Lanka. The solution has to be acceptable to all communities.
United National Party
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