TAMIL EELAM - SRI LANKA
All Party Representative Committee (APRC):
a Continuing Farce - 2006/2008
key to peace or an albatross?
TamilNet News Feature, 20 January 2008
Thirteenth Amendment to
Sri Lanka Constitution:
Devolution or Comic
Opera - Nadesan Satyendra, 1988;
Text of 13th Amendment to Sri Lanka Constitution, 1987 and
On the APRC, President Rajapakse & the International Community -
Jayawardena's Government claimed that the
Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution passed in August 1987
fulfilled the promises made in the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord, to
'devolve power' on the Tamil people.
Liberation Tigers dismissed the legislation outright, and said
it allowed "perpetuation of the domination, oppression and
exploitation of the Tamil masses by the racist Sinhala state," and
a constitutional scholar and attorney who
represented ex-militants in Sri Lanka trials, ridiculed the
as a "comic opera."
On the 13th Amendment, the
LTTE said in 1988, "With Presidential authority exerting rigid
control over the functions of the Provincial Councils, the powers
accorded to Parliament to amend or repeal the chapter pertaining to
the P.C's make this 'devolution package' a mockery."
"The legislative powers devolved to the Councils become meaningless
and impotent since Parliament retains the power to legislate even on
matters allotted to Provincial Councils. In brief, the provisions of
these Bills, having effectively constrained devolutional power,
allow the perpetuation of the tyranny of the Parliamentary majority
which has been the medium of repressive racist policies against the
Tamil people," LTTE said in its report.
Now, Sri Lanka's President has given an ultimatum to the
All Party Representative
Committee (APRC), appointed by him in June 2006, and tasked to
produce a consensus of the South in devolving power, to deliver by
the 23rd January, a proposal based on the 13th Amendment.
Rajapakse aims to achieve two political objectives with this effort.
First, he intends to placate India and to encourage a visit by the
Indian Prime Minister to attend the 4th February Independence day
celebrations. Secondly, Colombo is under severe international
pressure to present a political solution to the Tamils,
of the CFA by Colombo making this matter even more urgent.
Rajapakse appears to believe that this effort will help to convince
the international community of the bona fides of his peace motives.
He needs “something” from APRC's report to be handed over to him on
Wednesday [23rd January deadline] as “everybody expects us to put a
political package on the table,” Sunday Times quoted Rajapakse as
telling APRC members.
APRC has become an albatross, as a committee that hinders political
progress with its duplicitous conduct reacting to external political
Sumanasiri Liyanage who teaches political economy at University of
Peradeniya says in a
"Although the full implementation of the 13th Amendment is a
positive step, this proposal is a backward one. Why? For two
reasons. First, the full implementation of 13th Amendment today
means something less than the 13th Amendment of 1987 because of
the Supreme Court decision to de-merge Northern and Eastern
provinces. Secondly, many powers initially devolved to the
provincial councils have already been taken back by the center
government. Now the provincial councils have lesser number of
schools, hospitals, and many other institutions."
Shanthi Satchithanantham, a prominent civil activist, echoes this
view, and doubts the ability of Colombo in genuinely implementing
any proposal, and says there is no political will to even sorting
out the "concurrent list" in the 13th Amendment to fully devolve
The provisions of the 13th Amendment are impossibly "burlesque and
says. While derisively calling the Provincial Governor, the
Provincial Board of Ministers with a Chief Minister, and the
Provincial Council "a trinity of marvels", he adds,
"In sum, executive power in relation to provincial matters,
will be exercised by a Governor who will be appointed by the
President, who will hold office 'during the pleasure' of the
President, and who will exercise his executive powers as the
faithful and loyal servant of the Executive President of Sri
Lanka. That is the naked political and constitutional reality of
the character of a Provincial Governor under the 13th
Late Dharmeratnam Sivaram, a popular military analyst, and senior
editor at TamilNet,
said the 13th Amendment did not provide even a "loin cloth" to
the Tamils even after a decade of its existence.
But APRC is speculated to present a 'parallel' set of proposals to
lay claim to the need for "further discussions" - without the
participation of UNP, JVP, and TNA.