The new government in Sri Lanka should take up, as its immediate priority, the full implementation of the 13 Constitutional Amendment and recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, Vickramabahu Karunarathne, general secretary of the Nava Sama Samaj Party, has said.
Apart from these measures, he favoured the setting up of a credible domestic investigation mechanism to probe alleged war crimes by adhering to principles acceptable to the international community. “We have enough resources, enough people to carry out this task.” These steps would mark the beginning of the process of resolving the Tamil question.
In an interview with The Hindu at his party office on Sunday, Mr. Karunarathne, known as a strong critic of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, said “when you say the 13 Amendment should be implemented, this also means the devolution of powers on police and land to the administration of the provincial council.”
Asked whether the merger of the Northern and Eastern provinces was possible, the Left leader shot back “why not?” Pointing out that history and commonality demanded the merger, Dr. Karunarathne, one of the candidates against Mr. Rajapaksa in the 2010 presidential polls, referred to the example of Greater Colombo, which encompasses several local bodies such as Dehiwala and Kollonnawa apart from Colombo. “When this can be done, citing commonality as the reason, why not the merger of the East and the North?”
He also suggested that each plantation area should be converted into a municipal body. His suggestion assumes significance as a large number of Tamils live and work in the plantations.
On the question of federalism, the Left leader cited the example of India, which, he said, had granted more powers to States despite retaining the unitary character.
“Give greater autonomy to provinces. This can be done under the framework of a unitary state,” he added.