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Adayaalam takes note of Centre-Periphery Relations report with 'cautious optimism'

In a brief released today, the Jaffna-based Adayaalam Centre for Policy Research (ACPR) took note of the Centre-Periphery Relations Constitutional Sub-Committee report with cautious optimism, noting that its recommendations "had the potential to positively contribute to a genuine restructuring of the State that accommodates the concerns of the numerically smaller populations vis a vis the current state of the provincial council system and more broadly, the desire of the Tamil people for a genuine form of self-government within a united Sri Lanka."
Regarding the Law and Order Sub-Committee report though, ACPR expressed concern saying it "make(s) very little progress towards a genuine assignment of real law and order powers to the province." "Many of its provisions are deliberately ambiguous, which as the experience with the 13th amendment informs, always benefits the centre," assessed ACPR.
ACPR also expressed concern with the political context of the sub-committee reports, particularly those of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe's purported comments stating that devolution in the new constitution won't go beyond the limits of Chief Justice Sharvananda's judgment in In Re the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution of Sri Lanka. ACPR explained that the judgment construes a very narrow interpretation of unitary and also undermines arguments of those "who take the position that it is possible to have a minimalistic, watered-down-approach to the unitary state in the new constitution, while retaining the unitary label for its political value among the Sinhala Buddhist electorate and providing a genuine scheme for power sharing at the same time."
"ACPR's position is that unless it is clearly provided that Provincial Councils shall be independent and supreme within their spheres of influence, the use of the word 'unitary' will carry the import of a hierarchical arrangement rendering the provinces subordinate to the centre."
The brief concluded with ACPR urging the Steering Committee "to deal with the 'nature of the state' question in the same spirit as that of the CPR Sub-Committee" and calling on the Prime Minister "to reconsider his remarks concerning the continuation of a deeply centrist unitary state in the new constitution."
 
The full brief can be read here