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Premadasa tells Tamils that he will enact 13th Amendment 'in full'

(Sajith Premadasa meets unemployed graduate protestors, who are who are calling on the government to provide equal opportunities, during his tour of Jaffna)

Leader of the Opposition and Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) leader Sajith Premadasa told Tamils in Jaffna that his party was for the implementation of the 13th Amendment “in full”, as he pledged to devolve powers to the North-East with elections on the horizon.

Speaking in Nallur, Premadasa said he intended to make Jaffna, a ‘paradise of intellectuals.’ He went on to speak of the 13th Amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution, which calls for a degree of power devolution, and said the SJB believes the 13th Amendment should be enacted “in full”.

“I said this on May Day and I will say it here again in Nallur. There are leaders in our country who lack the political will or foresight, and who are spineless and indecisive. They cannot even say if they will enact the 13th Amendment,” he said. “We will enact the 13th amendment, we are certain this country will not break apart nor will it be divided.”

The 13th Amendment was brought in after the Indo-Sri Lankan agreement of 1987, which calls for a merged North-East and the devolution of police and land powers to the province. However it has been consistently rejected by the Tamil people as not being an adequate solution, whilst the Sri Lankan state for decades has obfuscated its implementation.

Premadasa went on to tell Tamils that it has been 15 years since the end of the armed conflict, but no government has been able to hold an international donor conference for the post-war reconstruction of the North-East.

“There are many shortcomings in the North. In most countries, once a war is over, an international donor conference is held. I think we are the first to not hold such a conference,” he told the audience. “I assure you that before the end of the year, we will put all efforts in place to hold this conference within a year and we will do it in the best interest of the people in the North-East.”

His pledges to Tamils come just weeks after the anniversary of the Mullivaikkal genocide, on which Premadasa issued a statement criticising the government for failing their “war heroes”. In his statement, Premadasa noted hundreds of former Sri Lankan soldiers have left for and against the Russian army on the front lines in Ukraine, amidst Sri Lanka’s economic crisis.

Premadasa has rejected the claims of Tamil genocide while opposing an international inquiry into these crimes. His party recently welcomed another accused war criminal former Army Commander Mahesh Senanayake to the fold. 

Apart from Senanayake, former Chief of Defence Staff Major General Sathyapriya Liyanage, Former commander of Sri Lanka's notorious Special Task Force, Nimal LewkeDaya Sandagiri, the 14th Naval Commander of Sri Lanka, former Army Commander Daya Ratnayake have all recently joined the ranks of the SJB. 

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