LTTE moots power-sharing model

COLOMBO OCT. 26. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is likely to propose a power-sharing model with wide powers for six years, according to a newspaper report.

The "draft proposals,'' according to a report in the Sunday Leader, provides for a 100-member body, with representation from the island's main ethnicities, Sri Lankan Tamils, Indian Tamils, Muslims and Sinhalese. The interim authority with a 20-member executive body, will seek "all powers allocated to the provincial council under the 13th amendment'', introduced after the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord and was the first constitutional step to give more powers to the provinces. In addition to the 13th amendment, under which Provincial Councils exist in the country, the proposed interim administration "desires the doing away of the concurrent list,'' the report said.

Sri Lanka's unitary constitution does not provide for substantial devolution of powers, but a draft constitution presented by the President, Chandrika Kumaratunga, in 2001, envisages a model with wide-ranging devolution of powers.

The report says that while the interim administration is in place for six years, "the Sri Lankan State, according to the Tigers, has to be reinvented and restructured.'' The LTTE also wants "a radical restructuring of the Sri Lankan State'' and wants a Constitution Commission "consisting of all ethnicities, religions and different shades of opinion to be set up to review the present one and draft a new constitution.''

"Given the tendency to secede, it is very likely that the LTTE will like a constitutional arrangement of a confederal nature'', the report said, adding "a system of shared sovereignty'' ensuring the unity and territorial integrity of the country is "expected to come into force''. In case the new Constitution is rejected by the preponderantly Sinhala south'', the LTTE is "very likely to exercise its right to external self-determination and seek secession'', the report said.

Since the latest peace process started, the LTTE's chief negotiator, Anton S. Balasingham, had made a distinction between "external'' and "internal'' self-determination.

However, today's report makes no such obvious distinction. To the contrary, it states that the LTTE "may hold a referendum for the north-east and legitimise this secession'', if the new Constitution is not accepted in the island. The report was said to be based on a "penultimate draft now in limited circulation.'' The LTTE has said that it would submit its counter-proposals to the Sri Lankan Government on October 31, through the Norwegian facilitators.

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