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Sri Lanka: Constitutional Amendment to Be Implemented

(Jan. 23, 2015) Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister, Ranil Wickramasinghe, stated on January 21, 2015, that the country will implement the 13th amendment of its Constitution. The amendment has been long pending, and the Tamil National Alliance, a political party of the Tamil people, a minority located largely in the Northern Province, has demanded that it be implemented. (Will Implement 13th Amendment Within a Unitary State: Ranil, COLOMBO PAGE (Jan. 21, 2015).)

The 13th amendment, originally certified on November 14, 1987, states that Tamil will be one of Sri Lanka’s official languages and that provincial councils, with substantial authority, will be established throughout the country. It also said, however, that these councils would be established at various times, as determined by the President. (Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution (1987), SOUTH ASIA TERRORISM PORTAL; Introduction to the Web Version of the Constitution [with links to text as amended through Dec. 20, 2000], PRESINFORM [official website of the Presidential Secretariat of Sri Lanka].)

In addition to this announcement that the amendment would be implemented, Sri Lanka’s President, Maithripala Sirisena, replaced the military officer who was the Governor of the Northern Province with a civilian. This was seen as a gesture of good will to the Tamil community. (Will Implement 13th Amendment Within a Unitary State: Ranil, supra.) The move, together with the plan to implement the 13th amendment, was also welcomed by political leaders in Tamil Nadu, the Indian state closest to Sri Lanka. (Tamil Nadu Parties Welcome Sri Lanka’s Announcement on 13th Amendment, ECONOMIC TIMES (Jan. 21, 2015).)