Barely a fortnight after assuming office as the President, Gotabaya Rajapaksa stated in India that it was through development and not through devolution that the problems faced by the Tamil people could be resolved. And he had assigned the subject of Provincial Councils to Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekara who is dead set against the concept of devolution of power and provincial councils. And Weerasekara in turn had been expressing his antipathy towards the provincial council system.
However, now the government and the ruling SLPP is said to be discussing about holding of provincial council election which has delayed for over two years. The backpedalling is obviously due to the pressure exerted by India and the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). Indian leaders, though not interested in the merger of Northern and Eastern Provinces now, have been insisting on conferring more powers to the provincial councils.
It must be recalled that Indian External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishanker arrived in Sri Lanka within 24 hours after Gotabaya Rajapaksa taking oaths as the President on November 18 with a personal message from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and held talks with the new Sri Lankan President. Dr. Jaishankar had conveyed to President Rajapaksa “India’s expectation that the Sri Lankan government take forward the process of national reconciliation to arrive at a solution that meets the aspirations of the Tamil community for equality, justice, peace and dignity.”
On November 29, 2019, eleven days after assuming office, President Rajapaksa visited New Delhi. During the joint Press briefing with the new Sri Lankan leader, Modi also echoed the same sentiments with the same sentence. However, as if he wanted to allay doubts and stress what he specifically meant, he added that “it also includes the implementation of the 13th Amendment.”
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