External Affairs Minister Prof GL Peiris yesterday told Parliament that President Mahinda Rajapaksa had conveyed to new Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi that Sri Lanka couldn’t devolve police powers under the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. President Rajapaksa met PM Modi in New Delhi on May 27 after having attended the latter’s swearing in ceremony the previous day.
Prof. Peiris was responding to UNP National Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Prof Peiris said: “We made it crystal clear that devolution of police powers is not acceptable.” Prof. Peiris, who participated at the New Delhi talks insisted that a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) was the best way to address the issue.
“We want to find a solution that will stand the test of time” he said.
Prof. Peiris said the talks between the two leaders had been centred on a wide range of matters, including PM Modi’s vision for the SAARC, economic relations between the two countries and the fishermen’s issue. Although there had been no in-depth discussion on constitutional matters, it was among the matters discussed.
The following is the full text of Wickremesinghe’s statement: “On 26th May, 2014 President Mahinda Rajapaksa attended the swearing in ceremony of the new Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Next day, bilateral talks were held between the two sides. The media reported that during the meeting, President Rajapaksa had explained the steps taken by the Sri Lanka Government to achieve national reconciliation. Subsequent to the talks, the Secretary to the Ministry of External Affairs, India, Shrimati Sujatha Singh in her media briefing stated “We on our side have urged upon President Rajapaksa that it is important for the wellbeing of the Tamils in Sri Lanka, that the Thirteenth Amendment be implemented, and that it is also important for it to go beyond. So we are hopeful that this request that is coming from the Prime Minister will be listened to and that Sri Lanka will take appropriate action as required.”
An earlier Joint Press Statement issued by the two Governments on 17 May 2011 during the visit of Sri Lanka’s Minister of External Affairs to New Delhi to discuss national reconciliation in Sri Lanka, stated, “the External Affairs Minister of Sri Lanka affirmed his Government’s commitment to ensuring expeditious and concrete progress in the ongoing dialogue between the Government of Sri Lanka and representatives of Tamil parties. A devolution package, building upon the 13th Amendment, would contribute towards creating the necessary conditions for such reconciliation.”
Will the Minister inform the House of the government’s response to this issue raised by the Indian side in regard to national reconciliation? What appropriate action will be taken in this regard? What were the assurances given to the then Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and the then Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha and the present External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in regard to a political solution for national reconciliation, by the President and the Government of Sri Lanka?”
(Courtesy: The Island)