President Maithripala Sirisena-led Sri Lanka Freedom Party would not agree to a federal set up in the new Constitution, a senior minister said today amid calls by Tamil groups in favour of a federal system. “There are three things that our party believe very strongly in the current constitution reform process,” Nimal Siripala de Silva, the Minister of Transport, said while addressing reporters in the central town of Kandy.
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“The position for Buddhism must not be diluted, the unitary character of the state must be preserved and there cannot be a federal system,” de Silva asserted. The Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) is a partner in the unity government with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s United National Party (UNP).
The process to replace the existing 1978 Constitution got underway in January this year when parliament was converted into a Constitutional Assembly. The Constitutional Assembly is to meet in December again to consider the reports of six sub committees.
De Silva said Parliament would evolve a draft Constitution with the participation of all political parties. Tamil groups have been articulating a federal system would be welcome. However the Sinhala majority is averse to a federal solution being granted.
The government expects the new Constitution to address the demand of Tamil minorities for political recognition. With the defeat of the Tamil Tigers in 2009 the Tamil groups have opted for maximum devolution as opposed to LTTE’s goal of a separate Tamil homeland.