Ahead Of Jaishankar's Visit, Lankan Prez Promises To Implement … – BW Businessworld
President Ranil Wickremesinghe has promised to fully implement the 13th Amendment to the Constitution negotiated by India ahead of the visit of India's External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar to Sri Lanka this week.
Wickremesinghe said that the 13th Amendment, proposed to devolve power and resolve the ethnic conflict between the majority Sinhalese and minority Tamils, would be implemented not only in the war-torn North but also in the Sinhala majority South.
On Sunday, the Sri Lankan President made the remarks while attending the National Thai Pongal Festival in the northern city of Jaffna.
After meeting with political leaders next week, he announced that a statement on the government's steps toward reconciliation would be made public in February.
Wickremesinghe also said that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's work would be expedited to provide relief to the families of those who have disappeared.
Following India's intervention in 1987, as part of the Indo-Lanka Peace Accord, the 13th Amendment was added to the Sri Lankan Constitution.
The accord, signed by then-Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and former Sri Lankan President JR Jayawardene, aimed at resolving the ethnic conflict that had escalated into a bloody war between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which was fighting for a separate state and the Sri Lankan military.
The agreement was signed to resolve the ethnic crisis by devolving political power to the country's Tamil-dominated northern and eastern provinces. However, the 13th Amendment established the Provincial Council (PC) system, a power-sharing arrangement that divided the country into nine provinces, including the Sinhala majority areas. Once fully implemented, the PC system would have the ability to self-govern in areas such as land, health, agriculture, education, housing and police.
The majority of Sinhala extremist parties have been staunchly opposed to the 13A, particularly the sharing of powers such as police from the Centre.
Since the end of the civil war in 2009, India has urged Sri Lanka to implement the 13A and this was reiterated by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar when he visited Sri Lanka in 2021.