Tamil leader appeals to Rajapaksa to support new Constitution

Sri Lanka's main opposition Tamil leader R Sampanthan today appealed to Mahinda Rajapaksa to back the new Constitution-making process, saying the former president's support is important.

PTI| Last Updated: Jan 13, 2016, 01:32 AM IST

Colombo: Sri Lanka's main opposition Tamil leader R Sampanthan today appealed to Mahinda Rajapaksa to back the new Constitution-making process, saying the former president's support is important.

"I wish to make a special appeal to him to place the country's interests before anything else," he said. Addressing parliament today on the proposal to convert the House to a Constitutional Assembly, Sampanthan said Rajapaksa was a leader of national stature and his support was important in the constitution making process.

He asked all political parties including Rajapaksa to contribute positively to the new Constitution making. The Tamil leader said, at the end of this process, the country will have a Constitution built with consensus not only within the parliament but outside of it among people.

"That will be the day that all people will have a sense of belonging of a new Sri Lanka," Sampanthan said. The Rajapaksa backers within the opposition group is expected to resist the process with some of them saying the current government had no public mandate to change the 1978 Constitution which is currently in force.

They have already proposed amendments to the proposed structure to draft the new Constitution. Their support would depend on the government willingness to accommodate them.

The new Constitution needs two third approval, the support of 150 in the current parliament of 225 members. It will also have to be approved at a national referendum.

Rajapaksa was dethroned from his 10-year long rule by his former aide Maithripala Sirisena after a bitter presidential poll on January 9.