Lanka Prez vows to work on political plan to end ethnic strife

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Colombo, Jan 14 (PTI) Sri Lankan President MahindaRajapaksa today vowed to press ahead with a politicalpower-sharing plan to address grievances of minority Tamils,nearly two years after the security forces crushed the LTTE.

The government was keen to have a permanent politicalsolution to the island nation''s vexed ethnic issue, Rajapaksatold a breakfast meeting with Colombo-based foreigncorrespondents at his Temple Trees residence.

"I am ready to share power at the centre. It is better toshare at the centre than at the periphery," he said, addingthat he has already asked opposition Tamil parties to come upwith a common negotiating position.

Rajapaksa said he was committed to the 13th amendment tothe Constitution on devolution of powers, which was broughtabout as a result of the July 1987 Indo-Sri Lanka peaceaccord.

"I am ready to grant 13 plus," he said, referring to anoffer to improve on the devolution plan, but said he was notwilling to consider granting police powers to regions.

Rajapaksa said he wanted Tamils to have a greaterrepresentation at the national Parliament as well as in aproposed second chamber, which could be modelled on an upperhouse of Parliament or Senate.

He said he did not want to force a solution on theTamils, but preferred democratic Tamil parties to come up witha negotiating position.

He said he was also ready to address the concerns of themajority Sinhalese community that there would be no divisionof the country on ethnic lines, only greater sharing of power.

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