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Lanka moots Senate to address ethnic issue

[MISC, Saturday, 21 January 2012 10:35 No Comment]

(khaleejtimes) A senate will be formed comprising members of minority groups and academics as a way to devolve powers to ethnic minorities, especially to the Tamils in Sri Lanka, said government spokesperson Keheliya Rambukwella.

The government’s announcement to form the senate as “viable link between the Central government and the provinces” comes during Indian Foreign Minister SM Krishna’s visit to Sri Lanka.

The proposal to establish a senate, referred to as the 13 Plus Amendment, would help find a solution to the national issue, said Rambukwella who is also minister of information. He urged the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) to support the process. Under the Indo-Sri Lankan Accord of July 1987—and the resulting 13th amendment to the constitution—the Government of Sri Lanka agreed to devolve some authority to the provinces.

Sri Lanka emerged from a three decade war between the government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) representing the largest ethnic minority in the country. Since the defeat of the LTTE in 2009, TNA has been agitating against the government on several issues.

Formed as an amalgamation of moderate Tamil parties and a number of former rebel groups, and originally demanding an independent state for the island’s minority Tamils, the TNA recently sided with nations demanding a war crimes probe into the country. Ongoing devolution talks between the government and the TNA have been bumpy, and the minority party was condemned for its strong criticism of the government’s war and reconciliation efforts report, the LLRC.

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