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Rajapaksa’s remarks on going back on devolution of power must be condemned – The Economic Times

[MISC, Saturday, 4 February 2012 12:14 No Comment]

Reconciliation can be a protracted affair, and achieving it can take as long as getting out of a conflict. But paying lip-service to the notion of reconciliation while apparently enforcing a peace based on the terms of the victors ensures, in the long run, that the grievances which led to the conflict in the first place continue to simmer. This is the unfortunate path which the Rajapaksa regime in Sri Lanka seems determined to tread.

After having repeatedly stated that progress based around the 13th Amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution, which has to do with devolution of powers, was his government’s roadmap towards finding a solution to the ethnic problem, President Rajapaksa seemed to confirm suspicions of his real intentions when he recently indicated that this may no longer be the case and that the issue would now have to be settled by the Parliamentary Select Committee.

It is to be noted that the 13th Amendment itself (a result of the India-Lanka accord of 1987), has been hotly debated and opposed by both Tamils and the Sinhalese – with contestations built around the degree and scope of the devolution of powers.

But it can’t be denied under any circumstances that such devolution, with a change in political and administrative powers, is the sole possible long-term solution to the conflict. Colombo’s own Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission ( LLRC), in fact, while criticised for seeking to elide the alleged war crimes committed by the Lankan army during the last stages of the war with the LTTE, had stressed that devolution is central for genuine reconciliation based on a political solution.

The larger issue isn’t just that the Rajapaksa regime represents a sort of victorious form of Sinhala majoritarianism. But also that under the rule of the Rajapaksa clan, a genuine democratic debate and ethos seem to be missing in Sri Lanka.

This exacerbated fears that Colombo was seeking to merely stave off international pressure, buy more time, while not doing much to move ahead on critical issues on the ground.

[Full Coverage]

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