Sri Lanka to set up top advisory body to govern north

April 16th, 2008 - 2:21 pm ICT by admin  

By P. Karunakharan
Colombo, April 16 (IANS) The Sri Lankan government has said that a “high level advisory committee” would be set up to govern the war-ravaged Northern Provincial Council, once the forthcoming eastern provincial elections are completed, government sources here said. The Government Information Department in a report Wednesday said that the ruling coalition led by President Mahinda Rajapaksa would appoint this top level committee “following the May 10 elections for the Eastern Provincial Council as per a proposal made by the All Party Representative Committee (APRC) on the devolution of power in Sri Lanka”.

“The advisory committee would function until such time the security forces liberate the entire Northern Province from the clutches of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), so that elections for local bodies and the provincial council could be conducted and democracy could be fully restored in the north,” Senior Adviser to the President Basil Rajapaksa, who is the brother of President Rajapaksa, has been quoted as saying in the report.

The APRC set up in 2006 by Mahinda Rajapaksa and tasked to suggest a system of devolution to solve Sri Lanka’s ethnic problem strongly recommended that the government should first fully implement the devolution package contained in the 13th amendment to the constitution.

The government’s idea to set up an interim advisory body to rule the north came at a time when the advancing government troops and the LTTE are locked in fierce fighting for months in the northern Wanni and northwestern Mannar districts.

Scores of combatants have been killed and several hundred more wounded during these clashes, with the government determined to flush the LTTE out from their Wanni base.

The historically Tamil dominated northern and eastern provinces remained merged following the 1987 India-Sri Lanka Accord. But they were separated following a ruling by the country’s Supreme Court last year, with which the accord became virtually defunct.

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