COLOMBO: The Sri Lankan government is planning to establish an Upper House in the country’s Parliament to be called the “Senate” to give the Tamil-speaking Northern and Eastern Provinces a role in the governance of the country from the Centre.
This was announced by the Cabinet spokesman, Keheliya Rambukwella, on Thursday.
Clarifying President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s assurance to the visiting Indian External Affairs Minister S M Krishna on January 17 that he would go beyond the 13th Amendement of the constitution to satisfy the political aspirations of the Tamils, Rambukwella said that ‘’13th Amendment-Plus” meant “13th Amendment plus a Senate at the Centre.”
The Senate in Lankan Parliament would give representation to the country’s provinces, including the Tamil-speaking provinces, at the Centre. There would thus be “power sharing” at the Centre apart from devolution on the basis of the 13th Amendment of the constitution, he explained.
But the Tamil parties, barring the Eelam Peoples’ Democratic Party (EPDP) led by cabinet minister Douglas Devananda, have rejected the Senate.
“We are not interested in sharing power at the Centre. We want devolution of power to the provinces on the basis of an improved version of the 13th Amendment,” said Suresh Premachandran, spokesman of the TNA, the largest party of Sri Lankan Tamils in Parliament.
V Anandasangaree, president of the TULF, said that Sri Lanka had a Senate prior to 1972. But it was of no use to the minorities because it always tended to be filled with the nominees of the ruling (Sinhalese) party.