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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2614

Lanka Cabinet Ministers Jeyaraj and Amunugama say they oppose govt's devolution proposals

By Joseph Thavaraja

Colombo, 27 June, ( In a significant turnaround, two Sri Lankan government ministers have openly declared their opposition to government's devolution proposals. Highways Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle and the Finance Minister Sarath Amunugama have declared their displeasure and opposition over the weekend to ruling party SLFP proposals to solve the ethnic problem. The SLFP released them on April 30th May Day rally at Colombo 'CMC Grounds' through Party Secretary-General Minister Maithripala Sirisena.

The set of proposals were shot down immediately by all other involved parties including the TNA due to its retrogressive nature as it designated Sri Lanka's administrative Districts as the basic unit of devolution. Thereafter, the government backtracked on the proposals saying that the proposals could be modified 'as we go along.'

Addressing a gathering of the Muslim Media Forum on June 23in Colombo, Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle said that for people fighting for a separate state, handing over a village is 'a useless thing' and if the SLFP proposals are brought to Parliament, he will oppose it. "I am not afraid to say that I am not a Sinhala Buddhist" he added. He added " Evicting minority Tamils from lodges was not a mistake, but a necessary step for security."

Finance Minister Sarath Amunugama, addressing a public rally over the weekend declared that he opposes the SLFP proposals. "District as the basic unit will not work. Province is the correct unit" he said addressing a public rally. "We need to devolve power. The best model for Sri Lanka is the Indian model" he said.

The SLFP devolution proposals released on May Day was based no less than on "Mahinda Chinthanaya" (President Rajapakse's election manifesto) centred on an indigenous model of administration and governance-"Having assessed the experiences of the past, the SLFP is of the view that devolution of power becomes meaningful only if people are adequately empowered. In addition, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party is of the opinion that this scheme of devolution would ensure good governance and more power to the people. Pradeshiya Sabha/Municipal Council/Urban Council, Grama Sabhas" the SLFP earlier said.

- Asian Tribune -

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