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SL ready to deem land, police powers for states

[Zee News, Tuesday, 3 January 2012 11:33 No Comment]

(PTI) The Sri Lankan government on Tuesday appeared to soften its stance on the issue of transferring land and police powers to the provinces in the devolution package being discussed with the major Tamil party TNA.

The thorny issues have kept the ongoing talks between the government and the Tamil National Alliance heated up, and the government said in a statement that it was ready to consider its scope as demanded by the Tamil group.

"Though the government is concerned about giving land and police powers to the provinces, it is prepared to consider its scope provided the Tamil National Alliance put forward its proposals at the talks with the government," a statement from government spokesman and minister Keheliya Rambukwella said.

"Dealing with day to day affairs such as smaller crimes and complaints could be dealt with by provincial authorities," the statement added.

This is in complete contrast to a statement by Rambukwella last week wherein he dismissed in earnest even the idea of talks cantered on the issue of transferring land and police powers.

Citing the Indian experience on police powers, Rambukwella said a similar scenario would be detrimental to Sri Lanka, which is even smaller in size than several Indian states.

Analysts feel that the latest government position could be aimed at keeping the dialogue with the TNA alive as there were murmurs that the party might pull out of talks citing the government’s rigid position on the contentious issue.

The two sides have so far held 18 rounds of talks with three more rounds scheduled to take place this month and the dialogue had entered a rough phase.

Only last week, President Mahinda Rajapaksa had asked the main Tamil party to shed their rigid pre-conditions and LTTE-like mentality.

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