By Easwaran Rutnam
A clear split has emerged in the Government on the 13th Amendment to the Constitution following talks held over the weekend between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Modi had told Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa today that implementation of the 13th Amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution is essential for carrying forward the process of peace and reconciliation.
Addressing reporters at a special media conference held in Colombo today, Fisheries Minister Douglas Devananda said that his position from the beginning has been that the 13th Amendment to the Constitution must be implemented.
“My position has not changed,” he asserted.
State Minister of Provincial Councils and Local Government Sarath Weerasekera had said recently that he is opposed to the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.
He has proposed a new system to replace the provincial council system which comes under the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.
However Minister Devananda said that Weerasekera has only expressed his personal opinion and that it is not the position of the cabinet.
He said that the Government is for the implementation of the 13th Amendment as it is in the Constitution.
Cabinet spokesman Minister Keheliya Rambukwella denied claims that there was pressure from Modi to fully implement the 13th Amendment to the Constitution in order to receive Indian funding for the promotion of Buddhist ties between the two countries.
He said a grant assistance of US$15 million for the promotion of Buddhist ties between the two countries was not linked to the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.
Rambukwella said that when Mahinda Rajapaksa was President there was talk of going beyond the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.
He said that a final decision on the future of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution will be taken after broad discussions and a consensus is reached and not based on individual opinions. (Colombo Gazette)