By Skandha Gunasekara
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday informed Parliament that he was unaware of any institution named the Task Force for National Reconciliation.
He made these remarks while responding to...... a question raised by National Freedom Front (NFF) Leader Wimal Weerawansa, who inquired as to whether an institution by the name of Task Force for National Reconciliation had been established with former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga as its head. "I am not aware of such an institute. You say that former President Kumaratunga is the head of this institute; why don't you give her a call and ask her yourself. After all, she is your old friend. Can't you remember you joined her to form a government sometime back? If you cannot ask her, I will ask her on your behalf," the Prime Minister quipped.
The NFF leader retorted that he expected a responsible answer from the Prime Minister as he had raised a serious question.
"I posed a question and demand a responsible response. This is not a comedy act. You say that I'm a friend of Chandrika Kumaratunga but our friendship has expired now. You are her new friend. There were media reports that Chandrika Kumaratunga was heading such a task force. Were those reports untrue?" MP Weerawansa said.
Prime Minister: "Chandrika and I have been good friends since childhood. We went to the same dance class and learnt dancing together. I have not seen any media reports of that nature. My question is whether MP Weerawansa is against reconciliation?"
MP Weerawansa: "There is no point in the Prime Minister questioning me. It is the role of the Opposition to question the government and ministers and you must answer. It seems you have confused our roles."
Prime Minister: "It was former President Mahinda Rajapaksa who agreed with Ban Ki-moon to set up a war crimes tribunal and you supported it. You all opposed it when you got cold feet at the realization that you too would be hauled up before such a tribunal. That is the true story. You are against promoting reconciliation."
MP Weerawansa: "It was former President Rajapaksa who brought about reconciliation by ending the war. His government never agreed with anyone to establish a war crimes tribunal.
Prime Minister: "Former President Rajapaksa intended to set up a war crimes Court using military personnel but that plan ended when President Maithripala Sirisena came to power. We are all for reconciliation while you are against it. That is the reality of the situation here."
MP Weerawanas: "Yes, yes. Anyone can understand that situation and the nature of the reconciliation you all expecting to usher in. We can experience the effects of your so-called peace and reconciliation when Sinhala students in the Jaffna University are being assaulted and chased away. There is no point asking questions from a Prime Minister such as you. Nowhere in the world can we find a Prime Minister like you!"