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Human Security And Peoples' Sovereignty

2014 Nov 23

By K Vigneswaran - Chief Minister,  Northern Province

India’s aim was to get powers devolved to the Tamils while maintaining the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Sri Lanka. But the 13 Amendment to the constitution and the Provincial Councils Act which the Accord gave rise to, were fashioned in a hurry without considering whether the distribution of powers between the Centre and the Provinces was just and equitable. In the Provincial Councils Act, powers given to the provinces by one hand were taken away by the other. Powers given to the Provincial Councils were diluted by the powers given to the Governor.

Although the Provincial Councils Act was applicable to all provinces, its flaws did not bother the people outside the North and East. This was because they belonged largely to one ethnic group, spoke the same language and often supported the same political party. But the Act gave the people in the North a lot of problem.

In 1987 itself, the leaders of the Tamils had foreseen the problems the Tamils would face. In a letter written to Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi dated October 28, 1987, they had said the government in Colombo would separate the North and East which the Accord had united to form a single Tamil-speaking province. Indeed, the North and the East were separated (in 2006). They predicted that the powers given to the Provinces would be diluted. That too happened. It was also predicted that the ceremonial Governor will eventually acquire powers to control the provincial administration. That too happened. The Tamil leaders condemned the 13th.Amendment as an empty shell. This is what we of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) said during the last elections (in 2013) and are still saying.

Sri Lanka’s unitary constitution clearly points to the Central government as the centre of power. We cannot have a just distribution of power under a unitary constitution. The provinces cannot work for their development under a unitary constitution. With political power in its hands and with the help of the armed forces, the Central government is bringing in the majority community to change the ethnic composition of the Northern Province. This had happened earlier in the Eastern Province. The government’s intention is to put obstacles on our path and prevent us from doing what we want to do in our province.

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