The 1984 All Party Conference
In January 1984, the Jayewardene government convened an All
Party Conference to seek a resolution of the communal issue.
Participants included the UNP, the SLFP, the TULF, and five
smaller groups. The major issue under discussion was devolution.
The government proposed the granting of autonomy to the country's
districts through the creation of district councils and other
changes in local government. Also, the government proposed
establishment of a second house of Parliament, a council of
state, whose members would include the chairmen and vice chairmen
of the district councils and which would have both legislative
and advisory roles. The Tamil spokesmen rejected these proposals.
One reason was that they did not allow for special links between
Northern and Eastern provinces. No compromise was reached and the
conference broke up on December 21, 1984 and was not resumed, as
had been planned, in 1985. Even if the All Party Conference had
reached an agreement on devolution, it was unlikely that it could
have been implemented because the SLFP and the Mahajana Eksath
Peramuna had withdrawn from the negotiations. The proposals also
were denounced by militant Sinhalese groups, such as politically
active Buddhist monks, who viewed them as a sellout to the
Data as of October 1988