Colombo: The Sri Lankan government on Tuesday
appeared to soften its stance on the issue of transferring
land and police powers to the provinces in the devolution
package being discussed with the major Tamil party TNA.
The thorny issues have kept the ongoing talks between the
government and the Tamil National Alliance heated up, and the
government said in a statement that it was ready to consider
its scope as demanded by the Tamil group.
"Though the government is concerned about giving land and
police powers to the provinces, it is prepared to consider its
scope provided the Tamil National Alliance put forward its
proposals at the talks with the government," a statement from
government spokesman and minister Keheliya Rambukwella said.
"Dealing with day to day affairs such as smaller crimes
and complaints could be dealt with by provincial authorities,"
the statement added.
This is in complete contrast to a statement by Rambukwella
last week wherein he dismissed in earnest even the idea of
talks cantered on the issue of transferring land and police
Citing the Indian experience on police powers, Rambukwella
said a similar scenario would be detrimental to Sri Lanka,
which is even smaller in size than several Indian states.
Analysts feel that the latest government position could be
aimed at keeping the dialogue with the TNA alive as there were
murmurs that the party might pull out of talks citing the
government`s rigid position on the contentious issue.
The two sides have so far held 18 rounds of talks with
three more rounds scheduled to take place this month and the
dialogue had entered a rough phase.
Only last week, President Mahinda Rajapaksa had asked the
main Tamil party to shed their rigid pre-conditions and
The TNA is often criticised for acting as proxies to the
now-vanquished separatist outfit LTTE, who fought an over
three-decade long armed campaign for a separate state.