Maithripala Sirisena says devolution key to Sri Lankan reconciliation

Sirisena said he was committed to the current process of constitutional reform to devolve powers to address the concerns of minority Tamils.

By: PTI | Colombo | Published:December 1, 2016 6:53 pm
Maithripala Sirisena, Sirisena, Sri Lanka President, Sri Lanka reconciliation, Sirisena reconciliation talks, Sri Lanka Tamils, Sri Lanka news, world news, latest news, indian express Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena. (AP File Photo)

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena today made a passionate appeal for reconciliation, saying he was committed to the current process of constitutional reforms to devolve powers to address the concerns of minority Tamils. Recalling several instances of the past when attempts to achieve political reconciliation was thwarted since independence from Britain in 1948, Sirisena, while addressing the parliament, said he was committed to the current process of constitutional reform to devolve powers to address the concerns of minority Tamils.

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“Some even joke and laugh about our attempt to reform constitution,” the President said.

Recalling the political opposition faced by the Indo-Lanka Peace Accord in 1987 when India intervened in Sri Lanka to create the provincial council system as a solution, Sirisena said that “over 100,000 Sri Lankans are still living in refugee camps in India due to the conflict which is a slur on the country and the government”.

He said through the military victory over the LTTE, the guns may have been silenced but the concept of separation was yet to be defeated.

Sirisena accused former president Mahinda Rajapaksa of trying to sabotage the current constitutional reform process for petty political gains.

“They claim that we are trying to separate the country through the new constitution,” Sirisena said.

Rajapaksa in 2009 had promised both, then Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that he would go beyond the India-brokered 13th amendment to grant 13 plus to the minority Tamils as a solution.

Sirisena said he was trying to achieve a solution acceptable to all communities and invited all groups to join hands with him to solve the problem.

“We will need to approve the new constitution in parliament and get it approved at a referendum, so it is important to achieve a common stand devoid of party differences in the referendum,” he added.