Gotabhaya: OPA also wants 13-A abolished; Why flay only me?


’By Shamindra Ferdinando

Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa yesterday said that his call for the abolition of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution had extensive backing from many sections of society.

Rajapaksa pointed out that Sri Lanka’s foremost outfit of professionals, the Organisation of Professional Organisations (OPA) had in May 2012 unanimously passed a resolution urging President Mahinda Rajapaksa to do away with the controversial 13th Amendment. The OPA’s call for the abolition of what was imposed on Sri Lanka way back in July 1987 coincided with the third anniversary of Sri Lanka’s war victory over terrorism.

Noting that the SLFP-led ruling coalition, too, had recently reiterated its commitment to the 13th Amendment, the Defence Secretary said both proponents and opponents of that constitutional amendment should examine the OPA’s statement, which was largely ignored by the media. Assuring its fullest support to President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s efforts to settle the national issue, the OPA called for the abolition of the 13th Amendment.

The Executive Council of the OPA declared that the 13th Amendment was an impediment to the post-war national reconciliation process and therefore it should be done away with.

The OPA came out strongly against devolution on the basis of the 13th Amendment in the wake of a section of the international community pressuring Sri Lanka to implement the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC).

The OPA cited five specific reasons for the abolition of the 13th Amendment. The President of the OPA, Architect L.T. Kiringoda alleged that it had been drafted in India even without the knowledge of Sri Lankan Parliament foisted on this country. The brainchild of the then Indian government influenced by the LTTE, the 13th Amendment had brought about political instability, the OPA President said.

The Defence Secretary urged all those issuing statements supporting the 13 Amendment to re-examine the issue without being guided by external factors. They could easily initiate a dialogue with the OPA without further delay. The Defence Secretary said that he hadn’t come across any statement critical of the OPA statement, which was given front-page coverage of the May 12 issue of The Island.

Rajapaksa urged all political parties to make a realistic assessment of the situation without being guided by various domestic and external factors. Asked whether his move had been prompted by some interested parties moving the court against Divineguma Bill, the Defence Secretary said that the legal wrangle had helped realise the ground situation. There should be a centralised mechanism to handle some important issues, the Defence Secretary stressed. "How could provincial level administration interfere with national level planning?"

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