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* Sri Lanka reiterates its plan to implement '13 plus' for power devolution
Fri, Oct 26, 2012, 12:13 am SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Oct 25, Colombo: The Sri Lankan government today reiterated that it intends to implement the widely discussed '13 plus' arrangement as a means for power devolution to the provinces.

In responding to a question on the uproar over the purported plans to abolish the 13th Amendment, Media Minister and Cabinet Spokesman, Minister Keheliya Rambukwella told the media Thursday that the government has not taken a decision about the 13th Amendment to the Constitution and the President has stressed that the government's intention is, to implement the 13 plus.

"By the reference of 'Plus' it is envisaged to converge all minority groups in the provinces in a Senate," the Minister said.

The Minister added that President Mahinda Rajapaksa explained this mechanism to the Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh during his visit to India last month.

Explaining the recent surge in the calls to abolish the 13th Amendment, Minister Rambukwella said the Amendment is part of the Constitution and the Members of Parliament are obliged to protect the Constitution.

"If there are obstacles to impediment public service such obstacles could be removed," the Minister said.

The Minister further pointed out that Sri Lanka is a democratic country and the people and their representatives have the liberty to express their personal opinions and the ruling United People's Freedom Alliance, being a combination of 21 political parties, has groups with different shades of opinion.

Speaking of a political solution to devolve power, the Minister said the government appointed the Parliamentary Select Committee to expedite the devolution process.

He further noted that the President without using his Executive Powers has pledged to implement the proposals presented by the PSC, and the legislature has been given the authority to discuss, deliberate and find the best solution.

However, the Minister noted that the major Tamil party, the Tamil National Alliance, instead of participating in the parliamentary process where a solution is available, is seeking the assistance from outside forces which "cannot do anything".

The Minister said the "vacillating stance" of the TNA is the sole reason for the delay in the devolution process.

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