Asking his advisors to study the Indian devolution model, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Tuesday told them to come up with a power-sharing plan to end decades of ethnic bloodshed and promised 1.25 billion dollars to help rebuild the island's embattled regions.
The offer of 1.25 billion dollars for the embattled eastern and northern regions, which is part of Rajapaksa's peace initiative, is more than twice the country's defence budget.
"Any solution needs to, as a matter of urgency, devolve power for people to take charge of their own destiny," the President said at the first meeting of a 15-member panel of experts appointed by him last week to come up with a formula that could lead to a new constitution that will grant extensive devolution of power to minority Tamils
"This has been tried out successfully in many parts of the world. There are many examples from around the world that we may study as we evolve a truly Sri Lankan constitutional framework including our immediate neighbour, India."
He also said that his invitation to the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was open to enter negotiations with the government and end three decades of fighting which has claimed over 60,000 lives.
"I have invited the LTTE to engage itself on this process. It is only by doing so that the aspirations of the Tamil people can be addressed, not through streams of blood and shattered limbs."