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India’s Foreign Minister calls on Sri Lanka to hold early elections to provincial councils

Writing to the leader of the AIADMK, M. Thambi Durai, India’s External Minister, S. Jaishankar emphasised the Indian governments demand that Sri Lanka fulfil its obligations to devolution, as stated under the 13th amendment, by holding early elections to provincial councils.

Jaishankar’s calls for provincial councils to “operate effectively in accordance with the 13th Amendment” follows the detention of Jaffna’s Mayor and police threats against the chair of Kilinochchi’s divisional council. There has been a steep rise in the use of Sri Lanka’s draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act and follows the proscription of a number of Tamil and Muslim organisations.

In his statement, Jaishankar claimed an “abiding commitment to [the] aspirations of the Tamils of Sri Lanka for equality, justice, peace and dignity”, noting that India’s position was illustrated by their abstention at the UN Human Rights Council. He further urged Sri Lanka to “carry forward the process of reconciliation, address the aspirations of the Tamil community and continue to engage constructively with the international community”.

“All efforts are being made to ensure that the safety and interests of Tamils in Sri Lanka are fully safeguarded”, he added. He also noted that the country “attaches high importance” to the matter.

In the past, Sri Lanka’s Foreign Secretary, Jayanath Colombage, who stands accused of human rights abuses, has heavily criticised the 13th amendment and demanded that India “not harp on this” and warning that it would lead to secession.

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