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13 A, ECT: India steps up pressure

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Deputy HC in powwow with Karuna, Pilleyan and Hakeem

by Shamindra Ferdinando

Amidst a simmering dispute over the cancellation of an agreement on the Colombo port’s East Container Terminal (ECT) with India, the Indian High Commission in Colombo has discussed the full implementation of the 13th Amendment to Sri Lanka’s Constitution with two former LTTE leaders from the Eastern Province, namely Vinayagamoorthi Muralitharan aka Karuna Amman and lawmaker Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan aka Pilleyan.

Chandrakanthan, recently released by the Batticaloa High Court after being remanded for five years over the 2005 killing of TNA MP Joseph Pararajasingham entered parliament on the Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal (TMVP). Pilleyan supports the ruling SLPP administration.

Karuna made an abortive bid at the last parliamentary election to enter parliament from Digamadulla district. Subsequently, Karuna received an appointment as Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaaksa’s coordinator for Ampara and Batticaloa districts.

Political sources said that the timing of the meetings was significant. In spite of the Cabinet deciding to do away with the 2019 Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC), India keeps pressing Sri Lanka to abide by the 2019 Memorandum of Cooperation on the ECT.

The Indian High Commission confirmed the separate meetings the Deputy Indian High Commissioner Vinod K. Jacob had with delegations from the Eastern Province led respectively by Pilleyan and Karuna Amman. Jacob has reiterated the commitment of India to a long term development partnership with Sri Lanka.

The IHC stated that Jacob and Pilleyan had also discussed the full implementation of the 13th Amendment as well as Provincial Councils.  

The IHC quoted Karuna as having emphasised in particular, the prospects for future development cooperation especially in the areas of livelihood opportunities for war widows, handicapped persons as well as engagement in the education sector including scholarships. Deputy High Commissioner reiterated the position of the government of India that meaningful devolution is the way forward for achieving the aspirations of the Tamil people through full implementation of the 13th amendment and Provincial Council.

Meanwhile, Jacob discussed current developments with SLMC leader Rauff Hakeem. The IHC stated: Hakeem positively evaluated India’s gesture of early supply of Covid vaccines to Sri Lanka. Both sides also discussed matters pertaining to economic, financial and development cooperation opportunities.

 Hakeem shared his assessment about the challenges facing the Muslim community in recent times. Hakeem also briefed about the issues involved in the forthcoming UNHRC session beginning later this month. Deputy High Commissioner Jacob recalled the conversations between the Indian and Sri Lankan leadership since November 2019. During the Virtual Bilateral Summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa in September 2020, the latter had expressed the confidence that Sri Lanka would work towards realizing the expectations of all ethnic groups. Deputy High Commissioner reiterated India’s long standing and principled position on meaningful devolution through full implementation of 13th Amendment.



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Full implementation of 13A: NFF vows to torpedo Ranil’s move, asks Dinesh, Mahinda to disclose their stance

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By Shamindra Ferdinando

The National Freedom Front (NFF), a constituent member of Nidahas Janatha Sandhanaya (NJS), has declared that it would oppose President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s bid to fully implement the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. The patriotic people were ready to defeat such plans, even at the expense of their lives, the party has vowed.

The breakaway JVP faction consists of six MPs, including former minister Wimal Weerawansa. The NJS is contesting the Local Government polls, scheduled for March 09, under the ‘Helicopter’ symbol.

NFF spokesperson, MP Jayantha Samaraweera, on Monday (30), told the media that his party was ready to lead a campaign against the UNP leader’s move to do away with constitutional safeguards meant to ensure Sri Lanka’s unitary status. The Lawmaker addressed the media at the NFF main office, at Pitakotte.

Having declared his intention to fully implement the controversial constitutional amendment at the Thai Pongal celebrations, in Jaffna, on January 15, President Wickremesinghe reiterated his commitment to the Eelam project during the party leaders’ meeting at the Presidential Secretariat, the former State Minister said.

Lawmaker Samaraweera asked Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, and twice President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who had flanked President Wickremesinghe, at the party leaders’ meeting, to disclose their stand on 13th Amendment.

The Nidahas Janatha Sandhanaya, consisting of NFF, Democratic Left Front, Communist Party, Lanka Samasamaja Pakshaya, Pivuthuru Hela Urumaya, Vijayadharani Jathika Sabhawa, Yuthukama, Sri Lanka Freedom Party, Nidahasa Janatha Sabhawa, Jana Jaya Peramuna, Sri Lanka Mahajana Pakshaya and Nidahas Janatha Peramuna, has yet to disclose its position on this issue.

MP Samaraweera attacked the President, close on the heels of NFF leader Wimal Weerawansa, who is also the Chairman of the Uththara Lanka Sabhagaya (ULS), questioning the legitimacy of the move. Lawmaker Weerawansa addressed this issue at a meeting held at the BMICH, on January 26, to discuss ways and means to thwart the move to privatize the CEB.

The ULS consisting of seven political parties, and groups, is aligned with the NJS.

Referring to the circumstances UNP leader Wickremesinghe re-entered Parliament, through the National List, nearly a year after the last General Election, former Minister Weerawansa emphasized the President didn’t have a mandate to fully implement the 13th Amendment. How could the UNP leader abolish Sri Lanka’s unitary status, having received an opportunity to complete Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s remainder of five-year term, won at the Nov. 2019 Presidential Election.

The MP challenged their erstwhile comrades, in the JVP, to state their position on the 13th Amendment. Alleging that the JVP had been conveniently silent on the issue at hand, MP Samaraweera asked whether the current leadership would take up Wickremesinghe’s challenge.

In addition to Weerawansa and Samaraweera, Yuthukama leader Gevindu Cumaratunga, MP, has declared opposition to the President’s move, at the party leaders’ meeting.

Of the SLPP parliamentary group, retired Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera is the only MP to publicly oppose Wickremesinghe’s proposal.

Political sources said that the NJS, as a group contesting the forthcoming LG polls, was yet to deliberate this issue and take a stand. They said that consensus was required without further delay as the President’s proposal would be a major issue at the forthcoming election.

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PHU, too, opposes land, police powers to PCs

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A lawyers’ group, aligned with Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU), yesterday (31) said that President Ranil Wickremesinghe couldn’t unilaterally decide on the full implementation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.

Attorneys-at-Law Pasan Gunasekera and Bhupathi Kahathuduwa, in a statement issued, explained why police and land powers, in terms of the controversial amendment, shouldn’t be granted to Provincial Councils. Abolition of current constitutional safeguard would undermine Sri Lanka’s unitary status thereby paved the way for a new conflict.

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Bangladesh FM to deliver LK memorial lecture

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Bangladesh Foreign Minister, Dr. A.K. Abdul Momen, will deliver the Lakshman Kadirgamar memorial lecture at Block 3, Jasmine Hall, BMICH, on February 03, at 6 pm.

The LTTE assassinated the then Foreign Minister, Kadirgamar, on Aug. 12, 2005.

FM Momen will deliver the annual lecture on the invitation of the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies.

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