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Rajapaksa briefs Indian officials on devolution

Sri Lanka president briefs Indian delegations about the elections held in May to the three districts in the eastern province and its impact on the country's political future, reports Sutirtho Patranobis.

world Updated: Jun 21, 2008 21:39 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times

The elections held in May to the three districts in the eastern province of Sri Lanka and its impact on the country's political future in terms of regional devolution of power were among the issues discussed in the meeting between President Mahinda Rajapaksa and top Indian bureaucrats in Colombo on Saturday.

Rajapaksa, it was reliably learnt, told three of India's most powerful bureaucrats – national security adviser MK Narayanan, foreign secretary Shivshankar Menon and defence secretary Vijay Singh who flew down to Colombo on Friday – that the government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) had been successful in clearing the eastern province of LTTE's presence a year before and had held elections there at the earliest.

Subsequently, a council of ministers headed by a Tamil chief minister were also appointed, he is learnt to have said, adding that the current dispensation was doing its best to implement the 13th amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution, which talks about regional devolution of powers.

Implementing the amendment and giving a degree of autonomy to the regions would efficiently counter any LTTE propaganda that the experiment with elections had failed, Rajapakse was told by the Indian delegation, it was learnt.Before meeting the President, the Indian delegation had met the Sri Lankan defence secretary, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the adviser to the President, Basil Rajapaksa, and the three service commanders.

It was learnt that they also met senior Tamil political leaders of the Tamil National Alliance, People Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam and the Ceylonese Workers' Congress on Friday evening. Officially, neither the High Commission of India nor GoSL officials were willing to comment on the reasons for this unprecedented visit of Narayanan, Menon and Singh.