State Minister tries to revive old formula to overcome devolution impasse



by Shamindra Ferdinando

State Minister for Foreign Affairs Wasantha Senanayake has sought Indian backing for what he calls a fresh approach to address the national question.

Addressing the media at the Foreign Ministry, yesterday afternoon, Senanayake revealed that he submitted his proposal that dealt with the contentious issue of devolution to Indian High Commissioner Taranjit Singh Sandu.

Senanayake said that he presented his proposal to President Maithripala Sirisena, PM Ranil Wickremesinghe, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya, Opposition Leader R. Sampanthan, JVP Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake, EPDP Leader Douglas Devananda, SLMC Leader Rauff Hakeem and former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, in addition to the Indian HC.

The UNPer emphasized the pivotal importance of Indian backing for his initiative as India was instrumental in paving the way for the 13th Amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution.

The State Minister asserted the readiness on the part of the four-party Tamil National Alliance (TNA) to allow the government to postpone scheduled Northern Provincial Council poll, indefinitely, perhaps indicated the grouping’s backing for a new initiative.

Senanayake said that he believed the devolution issue could be tackled efficiently by repealing the 13th Amendment to pave the way for District Councils. Referring to the abortive attempt to introduce District Councils years ago, Senanayake called for comprehensive and genuine devolution of powers at that level.

When The Island pointed out that proposal to have District Councils at the expense of the existing Provincial Councils was unlikely to be acceptable to the government and the international community against the backdrop of the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government undertaking a comprehensive new constitution making arrangement, Senanayake insisted on the viability of his move. The State Minister said that he wasn’t aware of the current status of the constitution making process.

Responding to another The Island query, Senanayake said that whether his proposal was accommodated in a brand new Constitution enacted as recommended by Geneva or brought in as an amendment to the new Constitution was immaterial.

The following is the text of Senanayake’s letter to political party leaders and Indian High Commissioner: "

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