Common courtesy to keep India, signatory to 1987 accord, informed: Rambukwella

The Sri Lankan government would revisit certain provisions of the 13th Amendment and Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa would brief New Delhi in this regard on Friday, Media and Information Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said on Thursday.

Mr. Rambukwella told journalists that Colombo had scientifically evaluated the current situation: “The government feels that certain provisions — with regard to land and police powers and the demerger of provinces — need to be revisited and necessary amendments may have to be made. It is only common courtesy that we keep India informed, because they were a signatory to the [India-Lanka Accord of 1987] agreement that led to the 13th Amendment.”

The next few days could well chart the course of India-Sri Lanka relations over the next few years.

Mr. Rajapaksa is expected to meet Indian authorities on Friday and on Monday — National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon will be in Colombo to meet the top leadership.

Asked if Mr. Rajapaksa’s meeting was intended to merely “inform” India or whether there was scope for dialogue on the issue, Mr. Rambukwella said “hopefully there should be”.

On what the government meant by “necessary amendments” to the provisions, and whether it would imply a reduction of power to the provinces, he said everything depended on how one interpreted the situation. “So far, land and police powers have never been given to any province. If you keep that in mind, [limited] land powers now would actually mean empowering the provinces.” But if one looked at what the 13th Amendment says, it may seem like those provisions are being diluted, he said.