Thirteen Plus means ‘setting up a senate’
The Sri Lankan government says that the establishment of an upper house is its definition of ‘Thirteen Plus’.
"The president assured me that he stands by his commitment to pursuing the Thirteen Plus approach" SM Krishna
Government Spokesman Minister Keheliya Rambukwella told journalists in Colombo on Thursday that the government expects to establish a senate to ‘represent minority groups and for consultation’.
"This will create a meaningful link between the central government and the provinces," he said.
The minister said that India has also been briefed on the government’s intentions by Sri Lanka’s president.
‘Assurance by Rajapaksa’
Indian Foreign Minister SM Krishna while in Colombo on a four day visit said President Mahinda Rajapaksa had assured him of his commitment to devolve more powers to the provinces beyond what has been proposed by the 13th amendment to the constitution.
"The president assured me that he stands by his commitment to pursuing the Thirteen Plus approach," Minister Krishna told journalists in Colombo on Tuesday.
Tamils have been calling for more devolution to the provinces including police and land powers as a step towards finding a solution to the national problem.
Land and police powers
However, Minister Rambukwella said that Thirteen Plus does not include devolving land and police rights.
"There are issues with police and land rights. However, they will neither be taken away nor fully implemented," was his reply to a question by journalists.
These issues, the minister said, should be discussed in the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) and outside.
TNA and PSC
"That is why the government insists the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) to nominate their representatives to the PSC," the Minister said.
TNA leader R Sampanthan said that TNA has never declined to participate in the parliamentary select committee process.
However, Mr. Sampanthan said that talks with the government which was planned for Tuesday did not take place as agreed due to government representatives failing to turn up.