The Sri Lankan government denied plans to roll back power sharing mechanisms with the Tamil minority on Wednesday despite ruling coalition parties’ attempting to stop long overdue elections in the former war-torn north.
JHU MP and Technology and Research Minister Champika Ranawaka announced on Tuesday plans to present an act in parliament next week to abolish provincial councils and the 13th Amendment.
The main Tamil political party, Tamil National Alliance (TNA), has insisted that it would not contest the upcoming elections in the north if police and land powers are taken away by the government.
However, acting Cabinet spokesman and Petroleum Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa dismissed such moves and insisted that the government has no plans as yet to change the Constitution. “The president expressly said a Parliamentary Select Committee consisting of all the political parties can discuss if there will be any changes to the present Constitution, especially to the 13th Amendment. In that scenario no steps have been taken to change the status quo. These arguments have been going on for a long time, these are not new arguments. But the 13th Amendment is still there. There have been no discussions to change the Amendment up to now,” he insisted.
In 1989 India intervened in the Sri Lankan government’s conflict with the Liberation Tamil Tigers of Eelam (LTTE) and included a 13th Amendment in the Constitution, which allowed power to be devolved from the central government to the provinces.
However, this amendment was never fully implemented in the north and east due to the war. Since the conflict ended in 2009, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa pledged to provide a political solution to the Tamil minority based on the 13th Amendment.
However, nationalist parties such as the Jathika Hela Urumaya ( JHU) have been lobbying to roll back the 13th Amendment and disrupt elections in the north, which are to be held in September.