Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa yesterday called for the abolition of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution without further delay.
The ongoing efforts by a political grouping led by one-time LTTE mouthpiece, Tamil National Alliance (TNA) to hinder the passage of the Divineguma Bill in parliament meant that in spite of Sri Lanka’s battlefield victory over terrorism separatist sentiments were strong, Rajapaksa told The Sunday Island yesterday.
Responding to a query, the outspoken official said that the SLFP-led UPFA should either do away with the 13th Amendment or amend it taking into considering ground realities.
The Gajaba Regiment veteran said that the 13th Amendment was nothing but an impediment to the post-war development process. The TNA and its supporters couldn’t be allowed to interfere with what the Defence Secretary called pro-people projects beneficial to all.
The 13th Amendment came into operation in line with the Indo-Lanka Agreement in July 1987.
The Defence Secretary’s statement comes in the wake of the TNA having high level talks in New Delhi to push for the full implementation of the 13th Amendment.
Asked whether he was speaking for the government, the Defence Secretary said that he recently had an opportunity to express his opinion to President Mahinda Rajapaksa and many cabinet ministers. It was important to examine internal and external threats posed on the Sri Lanka State and take tangible action to neutralize the threat, he said.”I’m not talking about President Rajapaksa’s government or the UPFA. I’m not talking politics. People should realize the external interference will not be beneficial. Whatever the party in power, it must have the freedom to take decisions for the benefit of the majority of Sri Lankans,” the Defence Secretary said.
He said that it was a joke that the TNA, which declared the LTTE as the sole representative of the Tamil speaking people in the run-up to Dec 2001 parliamentary polls, now tried to achieve what the LTTE failed with its conventional military power.
The TNA would never have received an opportunity to represent Tamil speaking people unless the Sri Lankan military eradicated the LTTE on the banks of the Nanthikadal lagoon in May three years ago. Had the military failed, the TNA wouldn’t have been in the limelight today.
The UPFA political leadership and Opposition political parties should realize the TNA represented the LTTE’s interests and that interests of the ordinary Tamil people were very much different from those propagated by the group. He urged political parties to see how the TNA behaved at the height of the war.
“I challenge anyone one to produce a single stament issued by the TNA urging the LTTE not to use children as cannon fodder. Did TNA oppose when the LTTE imposed restrictions on all political parties throughout its reign of terror?”
Rajapaksa likened the 13th Amendment to the Norway arranged Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) finalized in Feb 2002. “The 13th Amendment and the CFA didn’t serve the people of Sri Lanka. Instead, they facilitated interests of various other parties, including the LTTE. Interestingly both supported the separatist cause,” he said.
Rajapaksa said that that unless the government acted swiftly and decisively the ongoing crisis could have an impact on national security as well. He pointed out that already the TNA and some of its overseas supporters had been pushing for SLA pullout from the Northern region. It would be a mistake on our part to view protests against Divineguma Bill in isolation, he said.
By Shamindra Ferdinando