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Sunday, 30 November 2003  
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Mano-Malik formula focus on peace process

by Don Asoka Wijewardena

Moves for a stable President-Government relationship gather momentum this week when the Committee of National Consensus submits its final report to the President and Prime Minister on Thursday. The draft of a Memorandum of Understanding to be signed between the two sides is also to be submitted later this week, the Sunday Observer learns.

The Consensus Committee proposals provide for a principal focus of collaboration between the President and Government on the peace process, according to highly placed political sources.

Meanwhile, a detailed set of proposals put forward by President Chandrika Kumaratunga for collaboration between the Presidency and the Government on a range of subjects of national governance, as well as the participation of various other sectors of society in the peace process, is being studied by political and civil society leaders. National Consensus Committee sources of both parties declined comment on the President's proposal package. They would not say whether or not these proposals were part of the current Committee discussions.

On receiving the Committee report on December 4, the President and Prime Minister are expected to meet in consultation on the key issues of the peace process, defence, and economic policy, the Sunday Observer learns. The two leaders will then inform their respective party leaderships about the outcome.

Sources also said that both the President and the Prime Minister were under pressure from major donor countries, international Monetary Fund (IMF) and the international community to work out an effective plan of co-habitation in the interest of the country.

The source revealed that the European Union (EU),IMF and other major donor nations had given the government guidelines to prioritise the peace process and commence and complete development activities within a specific time-frame.

The sources also revealed that a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the President and the Prime Minister will be presented next week.

The MoU is expected to outline an effective framework consisting of decision-making process and how things would be implemented in the state machinery. The President and the Prime Minister will consult each other on the contents of the report and take a final decision in resolving the existing political crisis which has reached stalemate since the President's taking over three ministries under her purview.

Sources also said that the President, Prime Minister, international missions, donor nations and the international community do not recommend snap elections at this juncture as major donor nations have already requested both parties to reach compromise because of the existing political instability in the country. The international community and major donor nations have also repeatedly requested the President and the Prime Minister not to hold general elections as the country will have to spend around Rs. 800 million for the purpose.

They have requested the two leaders to resolve all political hassles in a sensible and amicable manner in order to achieve a lasting peace and political stability in the country.

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