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Sri Lanka may amend provincial powers ahead of northern polls

Press Trust of India  |  Colombo 

Notwithstanding the objections from and Tamil minority parties, the Sri Lankan government plans to go ahead with amending several powers of the provincial administrations, including the northern region, sources said today.

Accordingly, the police and land powers conferred on the provincial councils in the thirteenth amendment (13A) to the Sri Lankan Constitution on Indian instigation in 1987 are to be reviewed through a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) process.

The party leaders of the ruling United People's Freedom Allianc (UPFA) coalition have resolved last night to present a Cabinet paper with amendments for approval at today's Cabinet meeting.

A spokesman for the JHU or the Heritage party, a key nationalist ally of President said the provincial councils would be stripped of powers to merge with other provinces.

The provision which makes it mandatory to seek approval of all nine provincial councils when legislating on subjects devolved to the provincial councils would be scrapped, sources said.

Analysts said the move to appoint a PSC on land and police issues was significant in the light of opposition coming from Rajapaksa's nationalist allies.

They had warned that land and police powers to the northern provincial council would lead to the creation of a separate Tamil administration.

Rajapaksa has declared his intention to hold the northern Provincial Council election in September.

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid had spoken to his Sri Lankan counterpart G L Peiris last month and underlined the need to leave the 13A untinkered.

"In this context, he urged the Sri Lankan Government not to take any step in the light of its own commitments relating to the 13th Amendment and their expressed intention to build upon it," Indian sources had said.

First Published: Wed, June 05 2013. 15:10 IST