President: 13A cannot be fully implemented against wishes of majority

COLOMBO (The Island/ANN) - President Gotabaya Rajapaksa says full devolution of powers as per 13th Amendment cannot be implemented against the wishes of the majority community.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has stated that full devolution of powers as envisaged by the 13th Amendment to the Constitution in 1987 could not be implemented "against the wishes and feelings of the majority community."

In an exclusive interview with The Hindu in India during his first visit as President abroad, President Rajapaksa said that he intended to focus on development of the North and the East region, not political issues as the previous push for "devolution, devolution, devolution" has not changed the situation there.

Asked whether he was promising talks on devolution or the 13th amendment on rights for the Tamil majority areas, the President said: "Look, the 13th amendment is part of the constitution and is functional, except for some areas like control of police powers, which we can’t implement. I am willing to discuss alternatives to that."

He said: The 19th amendment (passed in 2015) is a failure and if we get 2/3rds majority in parliament we will drop it from the constitution. The only way you can even make the 19th amendment work is with two brothers (laughs) [at the top]. For a country to be governed successfully, you need stability.  This was not the case during the Sirisena-Wickremsinghe government, where they were fighting all the time and there was no development. Without stability, investors won’t come.

Asked whether it was true that he was called the Terminator in the family, the president laughingly said that it was not true. "I am the most innocent person in our family, since my childhood. When I joined the army, my family said Mahinda should have joined the army, and I should have joined politics."

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