Oct 23, Colombo: A proposal presented by Sri Lanka's main opposition United National Party (UNP) members of the Western Provincial Council against the abolishing of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution was defeated by the ruling party with a majority vote.
The UNP Western Provincial Council Member Mujubur Rahaman presented the emergency motion calling on all provincial councils to oppose the moves to repeal the 13th Amendment which the party says is necessary for the country's governance.
During a media briefing today the General Secretary of the UNP, Tissa Attanayake, hinting that there is another agenda behind the move, said if an opportunistic decision is taken to abolish the 13th amendment it would cause many problems.
A voice among the government members as well as the public is growing in Sri Lanka to repeal the 13th Amendment following the challenges from certain parties against the approval of the government's Divi Neguma bill, which is aimed at poverty alleviation.
The approval of the Bill by the Governor on behalf of the Northern Province where there is no publicly elected administration yet has drawn many petitions in the Supreme Court challenging the governor's authority.
The challenge to the constitutionality of the bill has led to the calls for abolishing the 13th Amendment which gives powers to provincial councils under the Indo-Lanka accord of 1987.
Sri Lanka's Defence Secretary had publicly called for abolishing the Amendment after the major Tamil Party Tamil National Alliance claimed that India is keeping a close watch on the controversial Divi Neguma Bill since the government through the bill was attempting to take over powers devolved to the provincial councils under the 13th Amendment.
His statement had backing of Sri Lanka's nationalist party Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) which is against the power devolution saying that the existence of the Amendment is an obstacle to the development of the country.
The JHU says the main reason the country should abolish the 13th Amendment is because it is helping to propagate the idea of separatism.
The government Minister of Construction, Engineering Services, Housing and Common Amenities and National Freedom Front leader Wimal Weerawansa has requested from the President Mahinda Rajapaksa to hold a referendum to repeal the Provincial Council system.