After the Rajapaksas’ win in the November 2019 presidential polls and the August 2020 general election, the spotlight has fallen on two key legislations in Sri Lanka’s Constitution. One, the 19th Amendment, that was passed in 2015 to curb powers of the Executive President, while strengthening Parliament and independent commissions. The Rajapaksa government has already drafted and gazetted the 20th Amendment.
- The other legislation under sharp focus is the 13th Amendment passed in 1987, which mandates a measure of power devolution to the provincial councils established to govern the island’s nine provinces.
- It is an outcome of the Indo-Lanka Accord of July 1987, signed by the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and President J.R. Jayawardene.
- 13th Amendment was expected to resolve Sri Lanka’s ethnic conflict that had aggravated into a full-fledged civil war, between the armed forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.
- The 13th Amendment, which led to the creation of Provincial Councils, assured a power sharing arrangement to enable all nine provinces in the country.
- The 13th Amendment carries considerable baggage from the country’s civil war years.
- It was opposed vociferously by both Sinhala nationalist parties and the LTTE. The former thought it was too much power to share, while the Tigers deemed it too little.
Source: The Hindu, September 6