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regime change and power sharing

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Recent regime change in Colombo, Sri Lanka did not take place in vacuum. There was international support and networks to depose the former regime led by Mr. Rajapaksa who provided political leadership to defeat the Tamil Tigers and local political actors contributed to the scheme planned by powerful actors.

One of the key developments with regard to deposing the regime apparently staged in Singapore. As TamilNet correctly pointed, there was agenda and that was coined as the 10 points formula. “The 10-points agreed between the Sampanthan polity and the regime changers including the new SL Foreign Minister, Mangala Samaraweera, at Singapore in 2013 follow:

Singapore Principles
1. In describing the nature of the State what is important is the substance; the labels are secondary.

2. The Constitution shall be based on basic constitutional principles and values including sovereignty of the people, participatory democracy and supremacy of the Constitution which shall form an unalterable basic structure.

3. Power sharing shall be on the basis of self-rule and shared-rule within an undivided Sri Lanka.

4. The Executive Presidency shall be abolished and the form of government shall be Parliamentary.

5. The pluralist character of Sri Lankan society as well as identities and aspirations of the constituent peoples of Sri Lanka shall be constitutionally recognized.

6. There shall be a strong and enforceable Bill of Rights consistent with universally accepted norms and standards.

7. There shall be a separation of powers and an independence of judiciary which includes a Constitutional Court.

8. Important institutions shall be independent and accountable. Appointments to these and High Posts shall be through a transparent mechanism that provides for a national consensus, example Constitutional Council.

9. Institutions of the State shall reflect the pluralist character of Sri Lankan society.

10.The Republic of Sri Lanka shall be a secular state. The Foremost place to Buddhism and equal status to other religions shall be assured.

Sri Lanka needs seek better ways to arrest the ethnic tensions. I am by and large in agreement with the 10 points provided the new regime would take measures to safeguard the interests and security of Muslims of the North and East in particular and Muslims in general in the troubled island.

The problem now among nationalist Tamil circle is rather interesting as expected. Tamil nationalists want to win a solution that would go beyond the 13th Amendment, and want the merger of the North and East plus de-militarization of Northern Sri Lanka. These measures, specially the merger of the North and East and de-militarization of Northern Sri Lanka will very likely compromise the security of the Muslims. Hence, it is the responsibility of Muslim politicians to negotiate power actors to seek better solutions for Muslims while not compromising the security of others.

The Muslims of Northern and Eastern already have spilled enough blood. So, when and if there is a forum to seek solutions to what’s dubbed as ethnic crisis, the special problems of the Muslims require political solutions as the Tamil grievances deserve. It is the responsibility of the Sri Lanka Government to search for a solution conducive to all communities. Such a solution, as I argued elsewhere, can be found based on consociationalism, which proportionally allocates political power among the communities – whether religious or ethnic – according to the percentage of their population.

(A.R.M. Imtiyaz is currently teaches at the Asian Studies Center, Temple University, USA. His primary research interest is in the study of ethnic conflict, both in Sri Lanka and in other countries. His articles have been published in several journals and presented at the international conferences on ethnicity. He served as a lecturer in Political Science at the South Eastern University of Sri Lanka.)

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