The 13A amendment of the constitution has a provision for handing over power to the Tamil community.
Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe will on Tuesday hold talks with the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) in Parliament in an attempt to settle the Tamil minority community’s longstanding demand for political autonomy before leaving for his first official visit to India this week. The TNA is a coalition of parties that represent Tamils from the North and East regions.
According to Sri Lankan Foreign Office officials, Wickremesinghe will leave for New Delhi on July 20 and will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on July 21. Before that he wants to hold a round of talks with the Tamil community. Wickremesinghe began talks with the TNA in December to settle the longstanding demand for political autonomy for the minority Tamil community.
Wickremesinghe proposed the full implementation of the India-backed 13th Amendment and was opposed by powerful Buddhist religious leaders. The same has happened in the past as well. The 13A amendment of the constitution has a provision for handing over power to the Tamil community. India has been pressuring Sri Lanka to implement Article 13A, which was brought in after the 1987 India-Sri Lanka accord.
The Tamil side insisted on resolving issues of concern such as the release of private land held for military purposes, the release of Tamil political prisoners, and compensation for damage caused in the conflicts. Some land has been ceded and some prisoners have also been released, but the Tamil side remains largely unsatisfied.
Some former Tamil parties have written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging him to press Wickremesinghe to fully implement the 13th Amendment. Sri Lanka has a long history of failed talks with Tamils. A 1987 Indian effort to create a system of a joint provincial council for the Tamil-majority north and east faltered as the minority community claimed it lacked full autonomy.