Even as the Sri Lankan government mulls over changes to the 13th Amendment, President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Friday issued a proclamation to the Election Commissioner to conduct the Northern Provincial Council election.
The announcement, which local agencies attributed to the Government Information Department, comes at a time when Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa -- also the brother of President Rajapaksa -- is in New Delhi to inform Indian authorities of Colombo’s position on the 13th Amendment.
The 13th Amendment, an outcome of the Indo-Lanka Accord of 1987, allows for a merger of Sri Lanka’s Northern and Eastern Provinces, upon a referendum among the people of those provinces; legislative powers for the provinces through provincial councils and executive powers through a board of ministers and a chief minister and devolution of power, including those over land, to the provinces.
However, a couple of months ahead of elections to the Northern Provincial Council -- predominantly a Tamil settlement -- the Sri Lankan government is revisiting the clauses on the land and police powers, and the merger.
A Parliamentary Select Committee was recently appointed to study the 13th Amendment, but some parties, including UNP – the main opposition here – and the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) -- which represents a group of Tamil political parties -- have boycotted the PSC. The NPC elections, as per the President’s earlier announcement, are scheduled this September.