Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has given up to the opposition’s pressure against his participation in the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) to be held in Sri Lanka. He has decided not to attend the meeting. In the absence of PM, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid will lead the Indian delegation at the meet.
Why there is opposition to PM participation in Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM)?
There is opposition by parties in Tamil Nadu as well as a section in Congress who want PM to skip the CHOGM as a show of protest against the Sri Lankan government alleging it of inflicting atrocities on Tamils by the Sri Lankan military forces during the war against LTTE. They are also cynical about Sri Lankan government plans to devolve powers to the ethnic Tamils.
India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives have signed a tripartite pact on maritime cooperation to secure sea routes in the Indian Ocean region. The three nations will share capacities and information to address threats to maritime security — such as piracy, terrorism and gunrunning —in the Indian Ocean and to pursue sustainable development of maritime environment. The agreement was signed at a meeting on Trilateral Cooperation on Maritime Security held in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Indian National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon has clearly voiced India’s view on the 13th Amendment of Sri Lanka’s Constitution emphasizing on the need for Colombo to fulfill its commitment to India and the international community regarding the same.
Sri Lanka has also shared the development being taking place towards the implementation of the 13th Amendment. It has formed a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) to reach a consensus on the implementation of the 13th Amendment. The PSC, which was constituted in June 2013, presently has 19 members, all from the ruling coalition — United People’s Freedom Alliance — led by the Sri Lanka Freedom Party.
Sri Lankan President has explained the practical problems in devolving land and police powers to the provinces of a small country such as Sri Lanka and stressed that the structure that is implemented should apply and be acceptable to all parts of the country. The President also urged India to encourage the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) to participate in the PSC and said the government was committed to taking the process forward despite obstacles.
Challenges before PSC:
Despite all efforts of the PSC, there is still a cynicism as some politicians doubt over the PSC’s ability to arrive at a fair decision on the 13th Amendment. The United National Party (UNP), the main Opposition led by Ranil Wikremesinghe, has not nominated its representative to the PSC as yet. The TNA, an amalgam of Tamil parties which has significant support base in the primarily Tamil-speaking north of Sri Lanka, has opposed the PSC. The Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) in the ruling alliance, which has been in favor of implementing the 13th Amendment in its original form, is not part of the PSC, either.
What is the 13th Amendment of Sri Lanka’s Constitution?
The Thirteenth Amendment (13A) to the Constitution of Sri Lanka is amendment to the Constitution of Sri Lanka which created Provincial Councils in Sri Lanka.This also made Sinhala and Tamil as the official language of the country and English as link language.
- Signed on July 29, 1987 b/w India and Sri Lanka.
- The Indo-Sri Lanka Accord is also known as the Rajiv-Jayewardene Accord, after its architects — Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and President J.R. Jayewardene.
- On November 14, 1987 the Sri Lankan Parliament passed the 13th Amendment to the 1978 Constitution of Sri Lanka and the Provincial Councils Act No 42 of 1987 to establish provincial councils.
In the 22nd session of United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) during the adoption of the Report of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in Geneva, Indian government, under pressure by DMK to vote against Sri Lanka on human rights issue, has stressed for action on issues like early progress towards reconciliation, apart from credible probe into alleged rights violations.
The government has been criticized for appreciating the Sri Lankan government for implementing India’s suggestions to implement the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) Report and to promote trilingual policy.
In its statement India: