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Lankan PSC to decide on devolution of powers in Tamil north

Press Trust of India  |  Colombo 

Sri Lanka today said that a parliamentary panel would decide whether to dilute regional powers as planned or their devolution as part of the 13A amendment after earlier considering curbs on provincial autonomy in the Tamil-dominated north.

"PSC (Parliamentary Select Committee) is the forum to decide if 13 plus or minus or any other solution," Keheliya Rambukwella, government spokesman and Minister of Information and Media told reporters.

Rambukwella was responding to a query on Indian media reports which quoted National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon as saying that he had stressed during his Colombo visit earlier this week that Sri Lanka should consider going beyond the provisions in the 13A.

During his meetings with the Sri Lankan leadership, including President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Menon had called for early political settlement and national reconciliation through meaningful devolution of power in Sri Lanka and asked it to adhere to the commitments made to the international community, including Indian government.

"The government view is that PSC would decide if it would be 13 plus or not. 13 plus is the Indian expectation," Rambukwella said.

Sri Lanka has been mulling a move to prune police and land control of provincial councils before conducting the northern provincial council election.

The PSC titled, "Select Committee of Parliament to Recommend and Report on Political and Constitutional Measures to empower the People of Sri Lanka to live as one nation", had its inaugural session on Tuesday without the participation of opposition members.

Rambukwella said by staying away from the PSC, the opposition had ignored one of the democratically accepted mechanisms available to reach consensus on the vexed question.

"We all know that India has also advocated the full participation of all political parties," Rambukwella said.

The main Tamil party, Tamil National Alliance and the main opposition United National Party (UNP) have both publicly refused to attend the PSC claiming it was a futile effort.

Rambukwella however said that no constitutional amendment to tinker with 13A would happen before the scheduled northern provincial council election in late September.

"As it stands now the election will happen while provincial councils are having all powers," he said.

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First Published: Thu, July 11 2013. 18:20 IST