Reconciliation ministry mooted in Sri Lanka (Lead)

January 11th, 2012 - 7:23 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Jan 11 (IANS) An advisor to the Sri Lankan president has suggested setting up a temporary ministry to fast-track the reconciliation process following the end of the dragging ethnic conflict.

Rajiva Wijesinha, the advisor on reconciliation to Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa, said a separate ministry for reconciliation, with responsibilities of implementing the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) should be set up.

“(The) ministry for reconciliation should be charged with fulfilling the recommendations of the commission as best as possible and be given a limited lifespan, of two years perhaps, after which it should be made redundant,” said Wijesinha, an MP, at the Observer Research Foundation Tuesday.

Wijesinha’s comments come ahead of External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna’s Jan 16 visit to Sri Lanka during which he will discuss with the Lankan leadership the progress in finding a political solution to the ethnic issue and inaugurate an India-assisted railway project.

Krishna is expected to hold wide-ranging talks with his Sri Lankan counterpart G.L. Peiris and call on Rajapaksa.

He will also meet representatives of the Tamil National Alliance, the largest Tamil grouping in parliament, and hear their views on the progress in their talks with Colombo over devolution of powers to provinces.

He is expected to impress upon the Sri Lankan leaders the need to take concrete steps for “genuine national reconciliation” and a lasting political settlement.

Wijesinha was critical of the failure of the ministry of education to come out with mechanisms to increase the supply of competent language teachers “despite the clear commitment of the president to building up a trilingual society”.

“This makes it clear that innovative ideas and ensuring their implementation would have to come from a dedicated agency,” he said.

Rejecting rivalry between India and China in Sri Lanka, Wijesinha accused the West of trying to create a wedge between the two countries.

“The efforts to present Sri Lanka as a bone of contention between India and China were largely self-serving for the West, though they may not be entirely hypocritical, given the tendency of the West to function in terms of binary opposites,” he said.

“This was also understandable given the manner in which they fought the Cold War, but China had made it clear that the primacy of Sri Lanka’s relationship with India was understandable,” he added.

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