Colombo: Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe will hold an all-party meeting to discuss the thorny issue of ethnic reconciliation of minority Tamils in the island nation. The meeting was called by the President to discuss the Government’s National Reconciliation Program and the way forward.
The all-party move comes closely on the heels of the president’s two-day visit to India last week where he met Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Before his visit, Wickremesinghe at a meeting with the Tamil parties represented in the north and east provinces had agreed to the full implementation of the 13th Amendment (13A) to the Sri Lankan Constitution with all-party consensus without the police powers being granted to the provinces.
The 13A was India’s pioneering move in 1987 to try and bring in a settlement to the issue of political autonomy to the Tamils in Sri Lanka. It created nine provinces as devolved units with a temporary merger of the north and eastern provinces.
Sri Lanka’s opposition parties appeared to be divided over their participation in the all-party conference. While invitations were extended to leaders of all political parties and independent groups with representation in parliament to attend the all-party meeting on national reconciliation, some of the opposition parties have claimed that they are not aware of the exact agenda.
Sri Lanka has had a long history of failed negotiations to end the Tamil claim of discrimination by allowing some form of political autonomy.