COLOMBO: The Chief Minister of Sri Lanka’ Tamil-majority Northern Province has called for a new constitution which will be based on the principle of shared sovereignty between the Sinhalese majority and the Tamil minority within a united Lanka.
Giving the keynote address at a seminar on constitution making in multi-ethnic societies in Jaffna on Monday, Wigneswaran said: “The principles and specific constitutional provisions that the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) considers to be paramount to the resolution of the national question relates mainly to the sharing of the powers of governance through a shared sovereignty amongst the peoples who inhabit this island.”
“ And devolution of power on the basis of shared sovereignty shall necessarily be over land, law and order, socio-economic development including health and education, resources and fiscal powers,” he added.
The Chief Minister further said that the Tamils’ “right to self-determination” but within a united Lanka should be recognized and that the Northern and Eastern Provinces should be merged to form a single Tamil-speaking province with adequate safeguards for the Tamil-speaking Muslim community.
But these ideas had been rejected on Sunday by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and opposition stalwart and former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
In a formal statement, Wickremesinghe ruled out a federal constitution. A federal system necessarily recognizes the acceptance of the concept of sovereignty being shared by the Center and the Provinces. The Prime Minister categorically stated that there is no need to change the “unitary character” of the Lankan state.
“As a Buddhist, Sinhalese and a Sri Lankan, I will not break up the country,” he declared.
Former President Rajapaksa, who now leads the Joint Opposition Group (JOG), said that the new constitution should not even have the devolution package contained in the 13 th. Amendment of the present constitution. He was opposed to the grant of powers over land and law and order to the provinces.
Rajapaksa said that Lanka is too small a country to have more than one police force. He pointed out that Tamil Nadu, which is much larger than Lanka, has only one police force.