East votes for full implementation of 13A

Wednesday, 2 October 2013 00:57 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By Dharisha Bastians The Eastern Provincial Council yesterday passed a resolution calling for the full implementation of the 13th Amendment in spite of strong opposition from the Province’s Chief Minister, becoming an unlikely ally in a likely push by the newly-elected Northern Provincial Council for greater powers as bestowed by the Constitution. The EPC that convenes in Trincomalee voted 16-1 in favour of full implementation of the 13A which establishes the provincial councils and sets out the powers devolved to the regional bodies and rejected attempts to dilute the constitutional amendment. The resolution was passed in spite of strong opposition by Eastern Chief Minister Najeeb Abdul Majeed, who walked out of the Council chamber when the resolution was taken up yesterday. The resolution was submitted by Sri Lanka Muslim Congress Group Leader A.M. Jameel. The 37-member Eastern Provincial Council is run by the UPFA which has 15 seats and also commands the support of the SLMC with its seven seats on an issue by issue basis. The TNA holds 11 seats on the council while the UNP holds four. With the SLMC backing the 13th Amendment, the opposition holds a majority in the eastern council. Jameel said that Chief Minister Majeeb had raised strong objections to the resolution backing the 13A saying the matter was before the courts. The SLMC managed to obtain the support of the opposition TNA and UNP members, Jameel said. Masjeed then suspended sittings and called a party leaders’ meeting, at which opposition council members told the Chairman of the Council Ariyawathi Galappathi to allow the debate of the resolution or face a no-confidence motion.  When the Chairman agreed and sittings resumed and the resolution was taken up for debate, Chief Minister Masjeed walked out, Jameel said. Following a debate the Council voted on the resolution that called for the full implementation of 13A including land and police powers for the promises. Sixteen councillors voted for the resolution while the council’s sole National Freedom Front member Priyantha Pathirana who generally supports the UPFA voted against the resolution. Many UPFA councillors were not present during the vote, Jameel said. Former Eastern Province Chief Minister Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan alias Pillaiyan was also not present during the Council session yesterday.