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Panel to draft SL devolution scheme

Draft would be aimed at solving ethnic problem, reports PK Balachandran.

india Updated: Jun 02, 2006 20:23 IST

The All Party Conference (APC) held in Colombo on Friday, has accepted President Mahinda Rajapaksa's suggestion to set up an all-party committee to draft a consensus-based devolution package to solve the ethnic problem in the country.

As suggested by the President, the APC will also appoint a panel of experts to advice the political committee on the intricacies of the problem from the legal, constitutional, social, demographic and economic angles.

And again, as per the President's suggestion, the draft devolution package will be presented to the LTTE for its views.

A final decision on the package will be taken only after getting the consent of the LTTE.

A spokesman of the Presidential Secretariat said that the President did not propose or suggest any particular form of devolution.

But it is well known that Rajapaksa is in favour of "maximum devolution within a unitary constitution."

He made his preference known again on Thursday, when he met the editors of major Sri Lankan media organisations.

The President told the editors that he wanted an indigenous Sri Lankan model and not the "Indian or any other model".

He had said the same thing to the US Assistant Secretary of State for Central and South Asia, Richard Boucher, when the latter met him here on Thursday.

President Rajapaksa's latest action follows the international community's demand that Sri Lanka make "dramatic changes" in its political system to address the legitimate grievances of the Tamil and Muslim minorities, even as it damned the LTTE for its terrorist acts.

The Co-Chairs of the Tokyo Donors' Conference, namely the US, EU, Norway and Japan, who are the "international community' in the Sri Lankan peace process, said in a Declaration on May 30, that they preferred a political settlement which met the aspirations of all the communities of Sri Lanka within a united Sri Lanka.

This has been India's stand too. India is a key player in the Sri Lankan peace process and works in close coordination with the Co-Chairs of the Tokyo conference and the Norwegian facilitators.

India has also been the author of the idea that the best solution for the Sri Lankan problem will be an indigenous "home grown" one evolved through negotiations between the two parties to the conflict, namely, the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE.

This view accords with President's Rajapaksa's policy.

First Published: Jun 02, 2006 19:00 IST