Not to go Beyond 13A for Ethnic Solution

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COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s opposition UPFA today pledged to limit its quest to find a solution to the island’s ethnic conflict within the India-backed thirteenth amendment (13A) of the Constitution.

“We aim to arrive at a solution acceptable to all by strengthening the provincial and local governments by not venturing beyond the 13A,” the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) manifesto for the August 17 parliamentary election released here today said.

Previously the UPFA under ex-president Mahinda Rajapaksa, had pledged for a solution beyond powers of the 13A.

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The 13A which outlined provincial councils for the island’s nine provinces came as a result of the Indian government’s intervention in 1987.

Rajapaksa who was defeated by Maithripala Sirisena in January’s presidential election has taken the unprecedented step for a former president to run for national parliament.

However Sirisena has taken over the UPFA leadership from the former strongman.

“We shall strengthen our relations with our neighbour India and other Asian nations by discarding the current West favoured foreign policy,” the manifesto states its foreign policy goals.

During the Rajapaksa years, relations with India and all Western nations soured.

Rajapaksa was bent on promoting China while relying on increased Chinese assistance for mega infrastructure development projects.

Accusing the current government of stalling Rajapaksa’s development drive, the UPFA says all development programs will be fast tracked.