Tamils seek power devolution in Sri Lanka’s new Constitution

Sri Lanka’s main Tamil party today demanded devolution of powers in the new Constitution to resolve ethnic issues.

“The only solution to the national problem could be the devolution of power. We hope the new Constitution will address this issue,” Tamil National Alliance (TNA) front line parliamentarian MA Sumanthiran told reporters here today.

The need for a new Constitution is felt by all in order to move forward as one country, Sumanthiran said, adding that the process will lay the ground for a new arrangement.

The Tamil minority seeks a power devolution arrangement to give autonomy to the traditional Tamil regions in the north and east of the island, he said.

The government early this month presented a resolution in to enact a new Constitution replacing the 1978 Constitution. However, the parliamentary vote on its mechanism scheduled for today has been postponed, sources said.

There was a tussle between the government and the opposition over the mechanism needed to formulate the Constitution. While the government opted for making the whole parliament a Constitutional Assembly, the opposition dubbed the move as unconstitutional.

The Tamils had stayed away from both previous Constitution making processes in 1972 and 1978.

Unhappy with sharing of power, the Tamils demanded self determination in 1976 which was later converted to a bloody military campaign carried out by the LTTE. The armed Tamil group fought a guerrilla war to create a separate Tamil state.

With the LTTE’s military defeat in 2009, the moderate Tamils parties have consented to the realisation of Tamil demands through consultation.


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