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President comes down hard on TNA

[Sunday Times.lk, Monday, 30 January 2012 12:10 No Comment]

President Mahinda Rajapaksa today said Sri Lanka’s Parliament will have to throw up what powers of his central government could be devolved to the provinces and that he was not willing to take sole responsibility for making proposals.

He was answering national newspaper editors at his monthly breakfats meeting with them at his ‘Temple Trees’ office this morning. Editors had asked him to respond to comments made by Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna during his recent visit to Colombo where he said that he had the permission of the President to say that he (the President) was prepared to give "13 plus", a reference to the 13th Amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution that devolves certain powers to the provinces.

Devoloution of powers mainly to the country’s north and east where minority Tamils reside is a demand by the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), a political party that has wide support in the areas and is backed by India. President Rajapaksa blamed the TNA for not sending names to a Parliamentary Select Committee that was expected to study devolution proposals and make recommendations.

He likened them to the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) the now defeated organisation that waged an insurgency from 1978-2009 for a separate state in the north and east. He said "the TNA is like the LTTE when it comes to negotiations. They come, then they walk out and then they say they want to discuss with conditions".

The Sri Lankan President said that what he told the Indian Foreign Minister "was nothing new". He said he was prepared to give "13 plus", i.e. more powers than the current 13th Amendment envisages, but that it will have to be Parliament, which represents all political view points to come up with a common solution.

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