Sri Lanka: Prez accuses PM party of letting Tamils down

Sri Lanka: Prez accuses PM party of letting Tamils down

Sri Lanka's President Maithripala Sirisena. Reuters file photo

Sri Lanka's President Maithripala Sirisena has accused Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's party of not doing enough to bring in a new Constitution to address the problems of the minority Tamil community in the country.

Since President Sirisena and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe formed the coalition in 2015, an attempt was made to formulate a new Constitution to address the Tamil issue.

"These gentlemen in the government wasted the last 4 years trying to bring in a new constitution. They failed the Tamil people. It was not my fault," Sirisena said at a gathering in the Tamil-dominated Jaffna on Friday.

He was pointing to Wickremesinghe's United National Party (UNP).

Sirisena was also critical of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution which has curtailed the presidential powers.

"The 19A has created three parallel governments of the president, the prime minister and the parliamentary speaker," Sirisena said.

The 19A was the main election pledge of Sirisena when he challenged former president Mahinda Rajapaksa as the Opposition's common candidate in 2015. Sirisena in 2015 introduced the 19A which reduced the presidential term for five years while taking away his absolute control over the dissolution of Parliament. It has also barred two term presidents from running for a third time.

Sirisena, who had hailed 19A as his biggest achievement, began to slam it since his unsuccessful attempt to sack Wickremesinghe.

The political unease between Sirisena and Wickremesinghe led to the latter being sacked as the prime minister only to be restored by the highest court's intervention last year.

Sirisena's comments in the Tamil heartland came as the country is heading for the next presidential election, which must be held before December 8.

The Tamil minority which supported the current government in 2015, remains disgruntled that despite the large scale Tamil minority support to Sirisena in 2015, nothing had been delivered to them. The community feels that adequate efforts have not been made to address their grievances.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) had run a military campaign for a separate Tamil homeland in the northern and eastern provinces of the island nation for nearly 30 years before its collapse in 2009 after the Sri Lankan Army killed its supreme leader Velupillai Prabhakaran.