Rajpaksa Govt unwilling to set timeframe for devolving powers to Tamils

Saturday, October 16, 2010

NEW DELHI - The Sri Lankan Government seems to be unwilling to set any anytime frame for the implementation of the 13th amendment, which consists of a devolution package for minority Tamils.

The 13th amendment came into being after India and Sri Lanka signed a pact in 1987 under which New Delhi urged Colombo to devolve powers to provinces in a bid to placate the restive minorities, mainly Tamils.

Sri Lankan Foreign Minister GL Peiris on Friday said: “It is impossible to talk of exact time frame for implementing the 13th amendment, it is a great mistake to do because if you talk of timeframe and then you are not able to complete the process, it is bound to be conjecture, speculative, then there is erosion of credibility.”

“In these constitutional processes things cannot be telescoped into clearly defined time frame we don’t think that’s the way to go about it,” Peiris told reporters after delivering the R.K. Mishra Memorial Lecture on ‘Growth, Equity and Security:

Constitutional Imperatives of South Asia’ here.

The Lankan Foreign Minister also said that President Mahinda Rajapaksa is in touch with Tamil political parties on the issue of devolution and have met leaders of National Tamil alliance on more than two occasions.

“Government of Sri Lanka is committed to the implementation of 13th amendment except of one feature of it. What we want to do is engage in discussions with important stakeholders you know what has happened in the past is a ‘top down approach’ in which the government announced what it wishes to do and that approach was not succeeded so this time around we want to do differently,” Peiris said.

“The Sri Lankan president has started discussion with different political parties, we want to carry forward that discussion get ideas from stakeholders and that should be the starting point of meaningful process that could culminate in implementation,” he added.

Peris also said about restructuring the electoral process in Sri Lanka and creating a space for democratic and legitimate Tamil leadership.

“Sri Lanka is resurrecting its electoral process to empower people and provide political space for minority Tamils so that they emerge as credible interlocutors for the community on the issue devolution of powers,” Peiris said.

Asked to explain ‘democratic Tamil leadership’, Peiris said:
“Tamil leaders that are thrown up by political process, many of them were wiped out like leader of opposition was assassinated by the LTTE, there is a gap to be filled.”

President Rajapaksa has time and again assured India on the implementation of 13th amendment and even promised its electorates of devolving powers to minorities articularly Tamils in pre election rallies. By Naveen Kapoor (ANI)

Filed under: India

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