Sri Lankan President Wickremesinghe stresses reconciliation issues under 13th Amemdemt

PTI | Colombo | Updated: 28-02-2024 20:03 IST | Created: 28-02-2024 20:03 IST
Sri Lankan President Wickremesinghe stresses reconciliation issues under 13th Amemdemt
  • Country:
  • Sri Lanka

President Ranil Wickremesinghe on Wednesday said the fate of the missing persons and the ongoing land disputes were posing a major political challenge for the reconciliation of the Tamil minority under the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.

Agreements have been reached to release more land and provide a pathway forward, the President said.

India has been pressing Sri Lanka to implement the 13th Amendment (13A), which was brought in after the Indo-Sri Lankan agreement of 1987 and provides for the devolution of power to the Tamil community.

"The primary concern at present revolves around the fate of the missing persons. To address this issue, we've presented and successfully passed a bill in Parliament to establish the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC)," Wickremesinghe told a reconciliation seminar here as he outlined the steps taken so far.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) had run a military campaign for a separate Tamil homeland in the northern and eastern provinces of the island nation for nearly 30 years before its collapse in 2009 after the Sri Lankan Army killed its supreme leader V Prabhakaran.

Wickremesinghe also expressed his intent to tackle other related issues as he said, the TRC has received the pledges of assistance from South African President Cyril Ramaphosa with similar cooperation being extended by other nations as well.

Wickremesinghe further said the ongoing land disputes in the north were a major political challenge for reconciliation.

"We aim to address these issues through inclusive dialogue, involving all concerned parties. Furthermore, I have instructed proceeding in accordance with the 1985 map," he said.

Additionally, the President said, he will be meeting with Tamil MPs in Parliament next week to discuss these matters further.

Following consultations with the security forces, agreements have been reached to "release more land, providing a pathway forward in our efforts." On devolution of power under the 13A, Wickremesinghe said, the granting of police powers to the provinces could be held back for future discussions.

In late 2022, Wickremesinghe initiated a dialogue with Tamil parties on the full implementation of the 13A without the police powers to the provinces. However, the powerful Buddhist clergy opposition suggested putting it on hold.

To devolve powers to the provinces outlined in the current reserved list, it was imperative to reach an all-party consensus to gain a two-thirds majority, Wickremesinghe said.

He also said discussions are underway regarding the implementation of the Provincial Board of Education. Proposals have been made to establish provincial professional training institutes in each province.

Additionally, plans are underway to appoint provincial-level committees to lead the modernisation of agriculture, establish a tourism board, and undertake related initiatives.

In a future constitutional reform, the idea for a second chamber along the lines of a Senate could be formed.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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