COLOMBO: Former Sri Lankan strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa has accused President Maithripala Sirisena of trying to appease the minority Tamil community by promising devolution of power, saying he will oppose the "fraudulent" new Constitution. "What did they say (the Sirisena government), they said powers of the presidency will be reduced and Parliament would be strengthened," the former president, whose nearly a decade- long rule was ended by Sirisena, said while addressing a public rally here yesterday.
"We will oppose this fraudulent new Constitution," Rajapaksa said, adding that the large gathering at his rally was an indication that people did not want a new Constitution. "The motive of the new Constitution is to appease the Tamil minority in their quest for political independence," he said referring to the military defeat of LTTE in 2009, Rajapaksa said, "We have to safeguard our victory".
He said the Sirisena government through the new Constitution would betray his victory over Tamil separatism. The government aims to replace the existing 1978 Constitution with a new one while accommodating Tamil demand for devolution of power to their regions.
Reports from six sub-committees comprising members from all political parties are to be referred to the main steering committee. No draft of the new Constitution was agreed. According to analysts, Rajapaksa's joint opposition, in their greater political plan to upset the current unity government, appears to whip up the Sinhala majority sentiments against the new Constitution.
Earlier this month, Tamil party Tamil National Alliance said it will not be a part of the ongoing Constitution-making process and will quit if the government abandons the idea of finding a political solution to the Tamil issue and more devolution is not considered. The new Constitution will replace the current executive president-headed Constitution adopted in 1978. The government expects the new Constitution to address the demand of Tamil minorities for political recognition. With the defeat of the Tamil Tigers in 2009, the Tamil groups have opted for maximum devolution as opposed to LTTE's goal of a separate Tamil homeland.