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Updated: February 1, 2012 01:51 IST

Rajapaksa does a U-turn on 13th Amendment

R. K. Radhakrishnan
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Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa. File photo
The Hindu
Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa. File photo

Denies that he ever told India he would go beyond the 13th Amendment

After promising to go beyond the 13th Amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution to find a solution to the Tamil ethnic problem, President Mahinda Rajapaksa has done a U-turn and said the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) would now have to suggest a solution.

At an interaction on Monday with the country's editors at Temple Trees, the President's official residence, Mr. Rajapaksa “denied that he ever told India [this],” The Island newspaper reported on Tuesday.

Asked if his comments, reported in the newspaper, meant that the Indian side lied about his purported promise during his meeting with Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna, Mr. Rajapaksa said: “This is not the first time that I am saying it [that I am for implementing the 13th Amendment]. In the beginning I said I have no objection. But Tamil parties should come and give their names to the PSC and decide on it…what they want. So the PSC advises and tells me ‘this is what you must do,' we have no objection. Parliament should do it. This is not my personal issue…I am ready to accept anything that Parliament gives me. Because Parliament consists of all they have to decide on this…Let all the official parties, the TNA, and all these people get together…”

Mr. Rajapaksa made the comments at an interaction with foreign correspondents stationed in Colombo at his official residence.

As per the 13th Amendment, a product of the Indo-Sri Lanka accord of 1987, Colombo agreed to devolve some powers to the provinces. Largely drawing on the Indian federal set-up, it has three lists which detailed power-sharing between Colombo and the provinces. Broadly, it provided for merger of the Northern and the Eastern provinces, and for certain financial provisions for the provinces. The provinces would have an elected council, and a chief minister and ministers.

After a meeting with Mr. Rajapaksa on January 17, Mr. Krishna said in a statement: “I discussed this matter [political solution for Tamils] with His Excellency the President this morning. The President assured me that he stands by his commitment to pursuing the 13th Amendment [to the Sri Lankan Constitution] plus approach.”

A joint statement issued at the end of the May 2011 meet between the Foreign Ministers in New Delhi too made the same commitment: “A devolution package, building upon the 13th Amendment, would contribute towards creating the necessary conditions for such reconciliation.”

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During India's foreign minister's visit to SL there were extensive reports in the media about their President committing himself to finding a political solution to the ethnic crisis that had resulted in violence of unimaginable magnitude to Tamils and other minorities through meaningful devolution of powers. Now that he has passed the buck to the PSC to look for solutions, all political parties of that nation should work together in accordance with their constitutional provisions and see to it that the gov.sets in motion the accountability process so that the crimes committed at the end of the war and the powers behind it are made accountable and the victims' rights to justice and rehab. are honored.The UN sec. general's panel of experts report and recommendations should see the light of the day through proper implementation. A society esp.a muticultural one like SL should promote equality,liberty,trust and harmony,only then it can dynamically move towards economic empowerment.

from:  vyjayanthi
Posted on: Feb 4, 2012 at 19:40 IST

Vijitha T you are right. Rajiv/JR thought that the 13th Amendment will appease the Tigers and stop the carnage. Yet, the LTTE acquired those powers extrajucially. And we know how they used those powers against the minorities in their realm. They even persecuted Tamils who were a minority not sympathetic towards the LTTE. Now the TNA wants those powers! This is not a political solutions. It will aggravate human division of the country that is the root cause for communal problems. We need reconciliation. Yeilding to the demands of one party at the expense of others is not reconciliation

from:  Siri de Alwis
Posted on: Feb 2, 2012 at 05:10 IST

India taken for a ride by Sri Lanka again. It is high time we indians establish justice for Tamils in Sri Lanka. Indra Gandhi did it in the 80s! LTTE was the by product of Sri Lankan state terror. We have helped Sri Lanka to eliminate the LTTE symptom, with cruel war crimes in 2009, not the disease in the form of Sri Lanakn racism.

from:  Arun
Posted on: Feb 2, 2012 at 04:21 IST

This is nothing new. India should have known this behavior way earlier. I think they know.First of all there is nothing called 13+. This term should not have been used at all. This is promising to implement and amendment which
does not exist.
Instead of wasting tax payers money, India should raise its voice and make things happen. India should behave like a big brother, if really intend to help, not like a tiny nation asking to show some mercy on Tamils.

from:  Raja
Posted on: Feb 1, 2012 at 21:59 IST

What president Mahinda says is correct. Whether it is 13+ or 13-, India should not press on a solution. Let Sri Lankan people find their own solution for their own problem. Through an all party discussion, only the parliament of Sri Lanka can propose a successful solution for this problem.

from:  Sanjay Rathnayake
Posted on: Feb 1, 2012 at 21:36 IST

Vijitha, Lanka made a commitment for 13+. From your words, if Sinhalese opine the same, to me, looks like LTTE was required as a force to make sure Lanka honoured its commitments.If Lanka were true, they would have moved towards reconciliation by now, but they seem to eat their words and go backwards.

from:  Ram
Posted on: Feb 1, 2012 at 15:40 IST

Whether it is 13+ or not what matters as a result of constitutional reforms should be to strengthen harmony and unity among our multicultural pluralistic society toward a sound economic achievements while safegurding the teritorial intergrity of this small country.

from:  R.Hadirampola
Posted on: Feb 1, 2012 at 15:33 IST

13th amend is only a method that is in front of the Sri Lanka Gvt as a solution to the ethnic problem. If they dont agree with it have they got an alternative solution that will satisfy the minorities and the International community?

from:  Vasan
Posted on: Feb 1, 2012 at 14:09 IST

See, Srilanka now even can cheat India. At least now India should understand the plight and sufferings of Tamils in Srilanka. Hope India will do something good for the Tamils, instead of making mere media statements

from:  Bindu
Posted on: Feb 1, 2012 at 14:00 IST

When the media termed the recent vist to Srilanka by SM Krishna "successful" I wrote in this column questioning the word succeful.
My hope that Sri Lanka will listen to India failed as I believe strongly Sri Lankan politicians will not devolve any substantial political powers to North East of the island, let alone 13 amendment plus. Why should they after a complete liquidation of Tamils hope in the battlefield on 19 May 2009.
India's policy over Sri Lanka prior to 2009 was not fully thought through and now we have to face the consequences. Sad affairs for the Island Tamils.

from:  V Kumar
Posted on: Feb 1, 2012 at 13:47 IST

The 13+ amendment was forced on Sri Lanka by Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. After dropping Dhal in Jaffna and threatening to invade Sri Lanka, J.R. Jayawardane did not have any other option but to sign the Indo Lanka accord and let the Indian Peace keeping forces in. There were thousands of innocent people were killed on the streets who protested against the Indo Lanka accord and the susequent 13+ amendment.Gamini Dissananyake, Lalith Athulathmudali, Gamini Jayasuriya and Premadasa all protested against the 13+ with no success. Sri Lanka had no other option but to our neighbour, INDIA feel good. Today it is a different ball game. LTTE is no more and we have a strong political leadership, thanks to our great president Mahinda Rajapakse.SL any further need not to commit to adopt any amendment forced on us by INDIA.

from:  Vijitha Thalpavila
Posted on: Feb 1, 2012 at 12:46 IST

Sri Lanka does not have a political problem. The politicians do have political problems because they love to have power. What we have is a socio-economic problem. Socially, we are divided on various grounds, such as, race, cast, religion, income, or even the school one was educated in. Therefore, there will be favouritism and discrimination. This is particularly rampant in a deteriorating economy when people have to share a diminishing share of the resources. A province can consist of many races. So, if a majority of the provincial council get additional power, they will use it against the minority of that province. From a Tamil/Sinhalese point of view, the Sinhalese will use it to the detriment of the Tamils in Sinhala-dominated areas where the majority of the Tamil community live. Devolving power will create further stress between provinces and, therefore, between our ethnic groups. Along with power, resources, too, will be province-based. It will create rich provinces and poor provinces. So, the socio economic division will exacerbate. Does anybody say that there would not have been an LTTE uprising if the 13th amendment was operational then? The government is concentrating on the development of the socio-economic structure of the country. On the social front, there will more concepts like “mathata thitha”.

from:  Siri de Alwis
Posted on: Feb 1, 2012 at 11:40 IST

This no surprise to us in Sri Lanka. This is a inherent feature of this person. We are sad about this regular U turns which take our country to nowhere.

from:  Sunil Lanka
Posted on: Feb 1, 2012 at 10:43 IST

The 13 ammendment is not suitable for the current situation. A new economic model is the holistic approach using a district as an economic unit.

from:  P.L.J.B.Palipana
Posted on: Feb 1, 2012 at 09:55 IST
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