COLOMBO: Sri Lanka Freedom Party led by President Maithripala Sirisena has rejected the country's main Tamil party's call for a federal solution to the minority community's political independence, saying it is "unconstitutional" and will strengthen "extremism".
"Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) is very clear in its policy to oppose a federal solution. Such a solution would be unconstitutional and would lead to disturbances by strengthening extremism", said Mahinda Samarasinghe, Minister of Skills Development and Vocational Training.
He said the government would not go beyond the 13th amendment to the Constitution adopted in 1987 on India's initiative.
"We will examine the 13A to see what powers remaining to be granted. We can consider that but not a federal solution," Samarasinghe, 60, said.
Sri Lanka's main Tamil party TNA-controlled northern provincial council adopted a resolution last week seeking a federal solution to the long-pending issue of political independence for the country's minority Tamil community.
The resolution adopted by Tamil National Alliance (TNA) aims to have the federal solution included in the current process of formulating a new constitution for the country. A new constitution replacing the current 1978 constitution is expected to be adopted by early 2017.
The Tamil demand for a federal solution dates back to the days when Sri Lanka, then Ceylon, came to be granted independence by the British in 1948.
Later, the campaign was extended to a separate state demand when the LTTE fought a decades-old war with the government to carve out a separate Tamil homeland.
With the defeat of the LTTE in 2009, the Tamil leadership has adopted a softer approach to give up on the separatist demand. Federalism as a solution has never won the approval of the 74 per cent Sinhala majority who fear that it would lead to the division of the country along ethnic lines.