Reiterates commitment for 13-A principles

EPDP accepts need for con. Reforms



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By Shamindra Ferdinando


 EPDP leader Minister Douglas Devananda, MP, yesterday said that he realized the need on the part of the government to introduce constitutional reforms in the wake of the Divineguma Bill being declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. But that wouldnmean the 13th Amendment to the Constitution could be repealed to pave the way for the Divineguma Bill, Minister Devananda said.


Jaffna District MP Devananda was responding to a query by The Island.


Asked whether he was concerned about an influential section of the government calling for the abolition of the 13th Amendment, MP Devananda expressed confidence that President Rajapaksa wouldn’t do anything to cause anxiety among Tamil speaking people.


The EPDP leader said that UPFA was discussing the possibility of bringing in a new Amendment (19 A) to the Constitution to address the issues caused by the Supreme Court blocking the Divineguma Bill. The minister said that he expected the proposed Amendment also to accommodate not only 13 Amendment but what was promised by President Rajapaksa, in addition to that. The bottom line was that the Tamil community expected genuine devolution, he said. "The issue here is whether the proposed amendment can accommodate what is enshrined in the 13th Amendment."


MP Devananda is the only political party leader to sign the impeachment motion against the Chief Justice.


The minister said that an all-party effort was required to address the contentious issue of constitutional reforms. Responding to a query, the minister noted that the SLFP revealed its readiness to bring in amendments to the Divineguma Bill hence, ruling out a referendum. The SLFP position was made known at a recent media briefing held at the Mahaweli Center.


The minister said that a section of the international community seemed worried about the recent developments. However, the minister said that he was in the process of consulting various members of the government, who still remained committed to the principles of the 13th Amendment.


The minister said that since the conclusion of the conflict in May 2009, there had been tremendous improvement in the ground situation in the Northern and Eastern Provinces. The MP stressed that there was a huge difference between what the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and sections of the Tamil Diaspora as well as the international community said and the actual ground situation. None of them wanted the government to settle post-war issues, the minister said, alleging that an influential section of the Tamil media was working overtime to undermine the reconciliation process.


Commenting on allegations that the government was maintaining a domineering military presence in the Northern Province, particularly in the Jaffna peninsula, the minister said that regardless of what the critics said the military had been vacating areas occupied during the conflict. "During my last visit to Jaffna about a week ago, the military vacated three Grama Seva Niladhari areas in Madagal west. That is a gradual process. More villages will be handed over in the near future," the minister said. The one-time militant said that security related issues could be tackled though some acted as if the eelam war was continuing.


The EPDP chief said that the government would have to accelerate the normalization process on the ground as well as constitutional reforms. The minister acknowledged that the 20th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva in March 2013 and the proposed elections for the first Northern Provincial Council were influential reasons to address post-war grievances as early as possible.


The MP said that there wouldn’t have been peace as long as Prabhakaran lived. "I survived at least 13 assassination attempts. But there could have been many other bids during the conflict."


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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