Rajapaksa allies press for abolition of 13th amend

Two allies in Sri Lanka`s ruling coalition demanded scrapping of the 13th amendment as it would "cripple" the parliament.

Colombo: In the wake of the apex court`s ruling on a key bill making it mandatory to obtain the nod of the yet to be formed northern provincial council, two allies in Sri Lanka`s ruling coalition demanded scrapping of the 13th amendment as it would "cripple" the parliament.

The parliament had passed the 13th Amendment to the Constitution in August 1987 as part of Indian intervention to ensure political autonomy to Tamils created provincial councils which are province based units of devolution.

The Supreme Court had determined that the `Divi Naguma` or the livelihood upliftment bill needs to be endorsed by the northern provincial council before being adopted in national parliament.

In the absence of an elected northern provincial council the bill needs to be passed with two thirds majority in national parliament.

The court ruling came as response to a petition by the Tamil National Alliance who argued that the northern governor`s endorsement of the bill was not adequate.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa has pledged to hold the northern provincial council election by September next year.

It appears to be at risk now as a section within the government has stepped up a campaign to abolish the system of provincial councils.

"The ruling would mean in future that no bill would be able to be passed in parliament without the approval of the northern provincial council. This would devaluate and cripple parliament," Champika Ranawaka, the Minister of Power and Energy from the nationalist ally of the government, JHU or the Heritage Party told reporters here today.

Ranawaka said it was hard for any of the major political parties to secure two third majority under the existing electoral system. "True that this government has two thirds majority but it has come from opposition MPs who joined the government," Ranawaka said.

Wimal Weerawansa, the Minister of Housing who leads National Freedom Front, said there was a threat to the unitary nature of the country if an "extremist group like the TNA garnered power in the northern provincial council".

"They can petition the Supreme Court and urge police and land powers," Weerawansa said, adding this posed a grave threat to national security.


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