The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), a key ally of the Sri Lankan government, has quit the All Party Conference (APC) convened by President Mahinda Rajapaksa to find a solution to the ethnic conflict and end the war in Sri Lanka.
Announcing the radical step at a media conference in Colombo on Tuesday, the party's ideologue Somawansa Amarasinghe said that the JVP did not want to be part of a group which seemed poised to take a decision hostile to the country.
He was alluding to the radical devolution proposals made by 11 of the 17 members of the Experts Committee, which the APC would be debating soon.
The JVP's action is critical in as much as the Rajapaksa government depends on the JVP to have a majority in the Sri Lankan parliament. The President can ill afford to ignore the JVP's views.
A majority of the members of the Experts Committee had submitted a report recommending substantial devolution to a united Tamil-dominated North Eastern Province so that the demand of the Tamil minority was met, and the extremist Tamil Tigers (LTTE) were politically marginalised.
Four members of the panel had expressed themselves against such changes in the country's unitary constitution with an all-powerful Presidency.
The JVP stands for a strong Centre and is against a unified Tamil dominated North Eastern province.
Somanwansa said that the Majority Report of the Experts Committee did not accord with the mandate received by President Rajapaksa in the 2005 elections.
The recommendations of the group would encourage communalism and separatism, while Rajapaksa's mandate was to uphold the integrity and sovereignty of the country, he said.
However, if the President were to reject the majority report, the JVP would come back to the APC, Somawansa added.
The Rajapaksa government has already distanced itself from the Majority Report and said that it was leaked to the press with an intention to nullify the effects of the stern measures that the government had recently taken to contain the "fascist LTTE."