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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2618

Sri Lankan President Expected to Invite Opposition Leader for Talks on 13th Amendment

By Our Political Correspondent

Colombo, 01 February, ( President Mahinda Rajapakse is expected to invite Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe for talks about the 13th Amendment to the constitution which is at the center of the All Party Representative Committee (APRC) recommendations.

13th Amendment to the 1978 Constitution was enacted following the Indo Sri Lanka Agreement of July 1987. It resulted in the setting up of Provincial Councils throughout Sri Lanka and it would devolve power to the Provinces under the unitary Constitution. Unitary constitution and power devolvement may be areas unifying the government and the opposition.

Opposition leader Wickremesinghe was reported to have very confidently told some foreign envoys, "We will support these recommendations if we can, in the interest of the country.” His meeting would be eagerly expected and what Ranil proposes may be deemed relevant according to most observers.

The ball is squarely on Ranil’s court as the 13th Amendment was a product of the UNP government and considered closer to their way of thinking. UNP announced few months ago that federalism was not necessarily their proposal when the peace talks with the LTTE were on.

APRC recommended that under the 13th amendment it was possible to bring about much needed changes in the North and East. APRC recommended the recruitment of Tamil speaking police officers to enable Tamil people in the North and East, and also in the country as a whole, to transact business in their own language in police stations.

It also wanted the recruitment of staff and procurement of equipment to enable Tamil people to deal with Ministries, Government Departments, statutory corporations and all other public bodies in their own language; the regular holding of, and streamlining of procedures for, mobile "clinics" where officials fluent in the Tamil language will engage problem solving on the spot. It also stated that the provision of interpreters, translators and other relevant facilities in all courts of law was essential.

APRC stated that the needs of members of provincial minority communities are catered fully with regard to all aspects of the administration of justice and also where the Sinhala minorities in the North and East suffer from disadvantages similar to those affecting Tamil speaking peoples as mentioned above, suitable steps should be taken to address them along the same lines.

- Asian Tribune -

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