Sri Lanka assures India of devolution of powers to minority Tamils

Sri Lanka assures India of devolution of powers to minority Tamils

Colombo, January 17: Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa Tuesday assured India of devolving powers to minority Tamils in the once strife-torn north-eastern parts of the country.

India’s foreign minister, S M Krishna, who met with Rajapaksa in Colombo, said, ‘The president assured me that he stands by his commitment to pursuing the 13th Amendment-plus approach.’

The amendment to Sri Lanka’s constitution outlines the devolution of powers to the north-eastern provinces, but no action has yet been taken. It was introduced in 1987 following an agreement between India and Sri Lanka aimed at finding a solution to the ethnic conflict.

It envisions a transfer of powers to a provincial council to be set up in the north, but that body has been defunct since 1989.

Sri Lanka was embroiled in a civil war against the Tamil separatists from 1983 to 2009, when the military swept through the rebel’s stronghold in the north.

Since the defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), Tamil parties have been demanding a political solution to what they claim is discrimination by the government on a range of issues, from language to social policy.

Neighbouring India and others have been pressing for transfer of powers to the northern part of the country.