Making evident its position on devolution of certain powers to its provincial councils, the Sri Lankan government has told India that it would be risky for it to devolve police powers as per the 13th Amendment to its Constitution, which followed the Indo-Lanka Accord of 1987.
Foreign Minister G.L. Peiris made a statement in this regard in the Sri Lankan Parliament on Wednesday, while responding to Opposition Leader Ranil Wickramasinghe. According to the State-run Daily News , the Minister told the Parliament that President Rajapaksa had clearly expressed the view that devolution of police powers to the provincial councils would result in “undesirable repercussions.”
Minister Peiris’ remarks come barely two weeks after Prime Minister Modi urged President Rajapaksa — at the bilateral meeting held in New Delhi after Mr Modi’s swearing-in — to deliver on his promises to devolve wide powers to the provincial councils, including those with a majority of Tamils.
President Rajapaksa, in 2010, had promised to implement more than what the 13th Amendment envisaged — what is popularly called ‘Thirteen-Plus’ — during diplomatic negotiations with former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon.
However, the Rajapaksa regime has since appeared firm in not handing over certain powers, including those related to policing and law enforcement, to the Tamil minority. Prof. Peiris said that for a quarter of a century, none of the five governments that were in power have been able to implement the 13th Amendment fully, emphasising that a solution could be arrived only through the Parliamentary Select Committee appointed by it. The Tamil National Alliance (TNA), an amalgam of Tamil parties, is however, sceptical of the exercise and has refused to be part of it.
The TNA — which leads the Northern Provincial Council after securing a majority in the September provincial elections — has repeatedly raised concerns over the lack of adequate powers to run the Council.