The National Freedom Front (NFF) yesterday acknowledged that it would have no alternative but to quit the SLFP-led coalition unless the government amended a controversial special gazette notification meant to broaden the scope of a local investigation by appointing a three-member International Advisory Panel (IAP).
The local investigation is headed by retired High Court judge Maxwell Parakrama Paranagama. The three-member presidential commission appointed in August 2013 includes Mrs. Suranjana Vidyaratne and Mrs. Mano Ramanathan. In February of this year, President Rajapaksa extended the mandate of the Commission by six months to August 12, 2014.
Sir Desmond de Silva has been named Chairman of the three-member panel consisting of Sir Geoffrey Nice and Prof. David Crane.
NFF spokesperson Mohomed Muzamil said that the party wouldn’t hesitate to take a decision in case its efforts to make the government to take remedial actions failed. The former JVP MP was responding to a query by The Island yesterday whether the party would quit the coalition against the backdrop of the appointment of an IAP in contravention of the ongoing dialogue between the SLFP and the NFF on a range of crucial issues, including non-cooperation with Western powers on the issue of war crimes investigation.
Authoritative sources told The Island that the government wouldn’t change the present course of action. Sources said that the appointment was in accordance with overall government strategy to address accountability issues.
NFF leader Wimal Weerawansa, MP, last Tuesday (22) urged President Mahinda Rajapaksa to amend the gazette notification issued on July 15 immediately. Minister Weerawansa, in a letter addressed to President Rajapaksa, has alleged that an influential section within the government had deceived him to appoint IAP consisting of persons whose loyalty was to Western powers. Minister Weerawansa asserted that the IAP would pursue a pro-Western agenda at the expense of the President, the government as well as security forces.
Asked whether Temple Trees had responded to Minister Weerawansa’s missive, Muzamil said that the party was awaiting a reply.
Muzamil alleged that the broadening of the scope of the mandate given to the presidential commission and involving the IAP had placed post-war Sri Lanka in a precarious situation.
Asked whether the NFF could remain in the coalition now that the government had established an international mechanism regardless of its threat to leave the coalition in case the government gave into foreign intervention, Muzamil said that the NFF was trying to rectify a major mistake.
Responding to another query, Muzamil said that the government made its latest move without even consulting any the coalition members. Muzammil emphasized that the sudden appointment of IAF was totally against the UPFA’s position, therefore unacceptable.
Minister Weerawansa told NFF politburo last Monday that the government had now paved the way for an international investigative mechanism within our local mechanism. Although, the panelists had been appointed on an advisory capacity, they could intervene in the work undertaken by the presidential commission headed by retired High Court Judge Paranagama, the minister pointed out. In addition to the recent appointments, the gazette had opened the way for further expansion of the three-member panel.
Minister Weerawansa alleged that the government’s position that local investigations wouldn’t be held under foreign intervention had been obviously diluted and changed.
Commenting on the forthcoming Uva Provincial Council poll, Muzamil said that the NFF was on a collision course with the SLFP over the latter allegedly planning to accommodate a former NFF member of the council under investigation by the party. Muzamil said that the SLFP’s handling of the war crimes issue was definitely not the only contentious issue. Muzamil accused the SLFP of reneging on a promise that those having disciplinary issues with their political parties wouldn’t be accommodated by another.
Meanwhile, Moneragala District NFF leader, Padma Udayashantha said that he wouldn’t contest on the UPFA ticket under any circumstance if the person subjected to disciplinary inquiry received nomination.
Muzamil told The Island that a special committee headed by General Secretary of the party, Priyanjith Vitharana was now exploring the possibility of contesting Uva PC polls on its own. The committee consists of former minister Piyasiri Wijenayake, Mohomed Muzamil and attorney-at-law Kapila Gamage