Federalism: Implications of international experiences and research findings for Sri Lanka
Posted on October 9th, 2016

by M.L.WICKRAMASINGHE Courtesy The Island

A dialogue on unitary and federal systems of government has already begun albeit among a woefully inadequate number of citizens. This article is an attempt at contributing to an informed dialogue on federalism by presenting the implications of international experiences and research findings on federalism for Sri Lanka.

It would be pertinent to begin by reviewing the pattern of physical spread of the two systems, among the world’s total of 195 sovereign countries. There are 169 (83.7%) unitary countries to 26 federated countries. (source: Wikipedia/ UN Statistical Division). In Asia 39 countries are unitary while only 06 countries (13%) are federal.

The population in federal countries is around 40 % and is due to the theoretical principle that federal systems are best for large countries. For example, of the 10 largest countries in the world, seven are federal.

In size, Sri Lanka is ranked as the 120th country out of 195. Of the 75 countries that are smaller than Sri Lanka, 68, or 90 % of countries are unitary. Of the 26 federal countries in the world, 85% are larger than Sri Lanka. Very many small countries follow the unitary model. Why should Sri Lanka choose to stray away?

Proponents of federalism, guided by western concepts, believe that countries with multiple ethnicities should, as a rule of the thumb, select federalism. But framers need to be more discerning; ask questions before committing to a model. Does federalism match with local reality, and ground situation in the country? Does it match with the existing socio-cultural, political, demographic, and geo-political circumstances? What are previous national experiences? What has international research shown, both on mainstream federalism, and ethno-federalism?

The oft made suggestion is that “if federalism is good enough for USA and India, why not for Sri Lanka?” We may begin by reflecting on the applicability of these to Sri Lanka.

This, very briefly, is how the USA constitution came into being. Around 1770s, the 13 separate colonies in America fighting the British for independence agreed to form a Union. However, after independence they realized that the central government lacked adequate executive authority to enforce legislation, raise revenue, and provide defense to the Union. The first agreement on the Confederation was a failure.

If the Union were to survive a new Constitution had to be developed. It was a kind of tight rope walk for the framers who had to balance the power of states already in existence with the power and authority needed by a central government to be effective as a Country in the emerging geo-political situation. This is why the Constitution of the USA is popularly called a ‘bringing- together’ Constitution. An independent Judiciary, Bill of Rights, and the separation of powers principle ensured that fundamental rights of citizens would be protected and abuse of government powers precluded.

As some Lankans think, the USA Constitution did not change a unitary country to a federal country. It sought to protect the integrity of the new Country built out of 13 disparate independently functioning states by judiciously strengthening the central government. Federalism was a pre-constitutional reality. But neither ethnicity nor language was the basis for demarcating states. It was pure and simple territorial federalism.

Sri Lanka certainly can learn from the constitution-making process in America. The key learning point is that the designing of the USA Constitution was mainly based on a critical analysis and a rational understanding of contextual issues, the locality-specific situation, historical developments, and the emerging geo-political situation facing the fledgling country. The concept of sovereignty of the people, the rights of the individual, separation of powers, and the stability of the Country were some overarching principles.

The lesson for Sri Lanka from USA, is not to import federalism. But to undertake a critical analysis and a rational understanding of the contextual situation and locality-specific issues facing the country, including an understanding of the implication of the size of the country, the continued need to forge amity among all communities, the geo-political implications, national security, and the need to strengthen the protection of fundamental rights of all citizens without discrimination, and the integrity of the State of Sri Lanka.

What can we learn from India? The Indian Constitution is called a ‘holding together’ Constitution.

There are 122 major languages and 1,599 other languages in use in India (2011 Census). Of the above, 22 are recognized as official languages. Hindi, the mother tongue of the largest number (41 %) of Indian people, is the main language in nine states (out of a total of 29 states). Bengali, the main language of two states is the second most widely (8%) spoken language. Telegu is the main language in two states. The other states have one main language each. With such a mosaic of heterogeneous population and far flung lands, the ground reality was to adopt federalism. The British colonial government advocated a federation in 1935, which failed to be activated. (Please also note that the British colonial government did not advocate federalism for Sri Lanka).

It is also revealing that during the early stages of framing of the Indian constitution, Pandit Nehru supported territorial federalism, but not ethnic or linguistic federalism.

Dr. S.D. Muni’s writing titled ‘Ethnic conflict, federalism, and democracy in India’ published in United Nations University web page confirms that Dr. Ambedkar was also of same opinion : ” …. Though the country and the people may be divided into different states for convenience of administration, the country is one integral whole, its people a single people living under a single imperium derived from a single source…” .

Later on, however, language based states were accepted. Nonetheless, the central government’s absolute power to annul any separatist push was maintained and further enhanced through new Acts as late as the mid-1970s.

Many wrote about the success of Indian federalism. But only a few attempted to identify causes for such success (and some setbacks). One such illuminating analysis was undertaken by Professor Ashutosh Varshney, Sol Goldman Professor of International Studies and the Social Sciences at Brown University, USA. In the 2013 article ‘How Has Indian Federalism Done?’ published in ‘Studies in Indian Politics’ Journal, Varshney identifies the vital factor for the success of Indian federalism: ” A major reason for the success of Indian federalism, if not the only one, has to do with the country’s ethnic configuration. Indian identities tend to crosscut, instead of cumulating”.

Varshney presents two concepts to describe the identity formation of the ethnic or linguistic majority group in the states. The first way is called ‘crosscutting cleavage’, and the second way is called ‘cumulating cleavage.’

When the majority ethnic group of the area is cross-cut considerably by other socio-cultural groups, such as those speaking a different language, belonging to a different religion or a tribe, that phenomenon is called a cross cutting cleavage. Consequently, the majority ethnic group would not be able to monopolize public opinion formation in that area. This reduces pathways for intense ethnic identity formation around that majority ethnic group. The absence of such a monolithic ethno-political identity prevents extremist politicians from mobilizing them for political brinkmanship against the centre. Varshney explains that intra-state issues are turned into a “more enduring form of politics than a confrontation with the Centre”.

The vast majority of Indian states are crosscutting cleavage states, and thus are immunized against separatism.

However, in a cumulating cleavage situation, the majority language group almost make-up the total population of the administrative unit; perchance if other seemingly different smaller groups are present they would invariably hold similar beliefs as that of the majority language group. There is nothing inherently wrong with such natural formations. But an opportunity is certainly presented to extremist ethnic politicians to exploit the situation and build up an intense ethno-political identity in the administrative unit and channel it against the central government.

India is proof of the empirical truth of this theory. Professor Varshney indicates that the separatist challenges in India exclusively occurred/ occurs in the few states where ethnic cleavages tend to cumulate. These are Jammu and Kashmir, and Northeastern tribal states such as Assam, Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland , Tripura and the Punjab.

However, the might of the Indian central government, its economic strength, and the strongly ‘pro-India’ Indian diaspora spread throughout the world acts as a strong and pre-emptive strike force against separatist tendencies.

Sri Lanka however presents a completely different picture on both counts. Professor Varshney discussing Sri Lanka in the above mentioned article writes:”Sri Lanka is a classic case of cumulative cleavages. Tamils are not only religiously distinct from the Sinhalese, but also linguistically and racially”.

The lesson from India for Sri Lanka is very clear. Any federal approach would clearly subject Sri Lanka to high risks.

In recent times many researchers have joined in studying ethno federalism. One such researcher, Henry Hale of America, as Professor Ashutosh, has attempted to examine the underlying causes in regard to federal processes. He presents a concept called ‘core ethnic region’ and identifies it as the biggest risk factor for state collapse in ethno- federal countries. (Ref:- H.E.Hale, ‘Divided We Stand: Institutional Sources of Ethno-Federal State Survival and Collapse’, in ‘World Politics Journal’, 2004).

Hale defines a core ethnic region as “a single ethnic federal region that enjoys dramatic superiority in population”. As per this definition, if the northern province of Sri Lanka is accorded federal characteristics constitutionally, (irrespective of the given terminology) it becomes a core ethnic region.

Hale’s analysis shows that all ethno-federal countries that ultimately collapsed had at least one core ethnic region within it. These were Czechoslovakia, Mali Federation, Nigeria First Republic, Pakistan, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Yugoslavia, and Serbia-Montenegro (the first federation).

Hale’s research indicates that in all these situations the “core ethnic regions are centrally involved in the collapses, producing dangerous situations of dual power …. that are frequently at the heart of state breakdown”, because core ethnic regions by its nature and power tend to retard the “capacity of the central government to credibly commit to the security” of core ethnic regions. This process according to Hale is set in motion by ethnic card playing politicians.

The above analysis clearly demonstrate that if federalism is invoked, Sri Lanka would be subjected to the presence of two high-risk disintegrative phenomena namely (i) cumulating ethnic cleavages and (ii) core ethnic regions.

It is proposed that policy-makers and framers take these concepts and the negative implications into view in deciding on the Constitution.

(The writer is an ex-journalist, communication researcher, and retired officer of the international civil service.)

8 Responses to “Federalism: Implications of international experiences and research findings for Sri Lanka”

  1. Lorenzo Says:

    Good research.

    We have to somehow STOP this F-MADNESS.

    We can’t allow these jokers to turn SL into another ENDIA.

  2. Ananda-USA Says:

    The Federal system of the USA did not prevent the US Civil war waged by the Southern States to secede from the Union.

    There was no magical aspect of that Federal system, and it alleged freedoms given to the states to stop that centrifugal move away from union.

    If that was so, then why didn’t the American Champions od Democracy allow the Southern states to secede?

    What then was the rationale used by the Unionists to JUSTIFY and CONVINCE their people to wage the most davastining war of modern times to date, in terms of the number of people killed as a percentage of the population, to hold the nation together?

    The answer to that question is most REVEALING of American DOUBLE STANDARDS and IRRELEVANCE of American arguments in favour of their FEDERAL system and the attempt to impose such a system upon Sri Lanka.

    The Confederate States had voluntarily joined to form the United States at a time their ability to survive as newly liberated colonies from Britain and other European Colonial powers was very much in doubt. In fact, the war of 1812 with Britain saw a new invasion of the United States and the burning of Washington by the British. Therefore, the States forming the Union needed the strength derived from that union to continue to survive independent of the predatory colonial powers.

    A hundred years later, at the time of the US Civil war, America was sufficiently strong to defend it’s independence against any combination of European powers, and turned on each other.

    The answer the question I posed was a central questions that Abraham Lincoln had to answer, and as an extremely intelligent man with the gift of the gab, he was equal to the task.

    His RATIONAL for FORCING the Confederate States back into the Union against their own States right to secede, was to create A NEW RIGHT of that ALL of the people of the United States had ACQUIRED as citizens of a SINGLE NATION in the previous 100 years of independence from Britain and union as one Nation.

    He argued that the PEOPLE OF THE USA now had acquired an INALIENABLE RIGHT to live ANYWHERE within the USA, to consider it as ONE INDIVISIBLE NATION in which each of them had an emotional attachment to, cenented by their labor and sactifieces yhey had made as citizend Because of that NEW RIGHT established over

  3. Ananda-USA Says:

    Continuing. ….

    cemented by the labors and sacrifices of themselves and their forebears. He also pointed out that the future safety and progress of generations yet unborn would be better served by preserving the UNION.

    On that basis, Lincoln successfully argued, and convinced a majority of the people of the country, especially in the Northern States, that that acquired inalienable right TRUMP’S the right of the Southern States, who had voluntarily joined the union and had never given up their right to sever that union if it no longer serves them, to SECEDE from the Union and breakaway to form a new country that would deny the benefits of citizenship to ALL of the citizens of the previous United States.

    If the RIGHT OF THE USA to preserve their UNION on that RATIONALE is a valid LEGAL ARGUMENT, then that same right must be ACCORDED to the citizens of the UNITARY NATION of Sri Lanka.

    Furthermore, since the demand for a FEDERAL SYSTEM, that paved the way for the Southern States of the American Union to secede, is CLEARLY INIMICAL to the CONTINUED INTEGRITY and SURVIVAL of the Unitary Nation of Sri Lanka, it should not be IMPLEMENTED in Sri Lanka.

    As the author of this article quite correctly argues, why does Sri Lanka have to EMBED within itself the SAME DISEASE that nearly led to DISINTEGRATION of the United States?

    We, the citizens of Sri Lanka, have ACQUIRED an INALIENABLE RIGHT to a single unitary nation, through the labors and sacrifices over 2500 years, a period far longer than the 100-year period that CONFERRED such a right upon the citizens of the United States between Independence e from Britain and the secession of the Southern States.

    That being so, it is DOWNRIGHT HYPOCRITICAL of the United States to propose and impose a FEDERAL SYSTEM upon Sri Lanka, thus imposing a weaker, more fragile, form of government inimical to the integrity and future survival of Sri Lanka, that had never had a FEDERAL SYSTEM previously.

    There are demographic changes in progress in the United States that are generating centrifugal communal tendencies, that could disintegrate the nation in the future. The chief among these is the rise of a Hispanic dominated Southwest, that identifies more with Mexico than the United States. There are calls, supported by many websites, that advocate a Republic del Norte as an independent Hispanic nation in covering the entire Southwest, including Texas, Arianna, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada and California in a form of RECONQUEST of the lands lost by Mexico to the United States in the 1800’s.

    If such an event comes to fruition, the Federal System of the USA will once again be a CRITICAL WEAKNESS weakness in governance that will help that secession.

    It is highly unlikely that in this day and age, where the majority of the people are bleeding heart liberals who argue that divetsity is everything, that another Abraham Lincoln would rise up to argue for preserving the United States, even to the extent of waging war on the seeding Southwestern states.

    That kind of intestinal fortitude is lacking in the United States today, to preserve this blessed land as one Nation stretching fro OCEAN TO OCEAN!

    My ppint is, the USA is a very young nation, that is rapidly evolving, and may again confront the weakness of its federal system of governance. The Executive Presidential form of government of the USA, with much power concentrated in the hands of the President and the Executive Administration has helped the USA overcome the weakness of its Federal system of governance. Furthermore, after the war against Mexico was won, the US has not had enemies on the American continent that could confront it, and has enjoyed much security and stability as a result. European nations, even today, have not had such freedom from invasion from neighboring countries, and have suffered as a result.

    This UNDERSCORES why it is CRITICAL for Sri Lanka’s security not to empower FEDERAL ENTITIES within its territory, to presetve in a small measure the security that the US has enjoyed for over 200 years by retaining control over its territory stretching from ocean to ocean.

    We Sri Lankans would also desire to bequeath some measure of stability to our people and our descendents, just like American citizens do now.

  4. plumblossom Says:

    There is no Tamil Homeland! It is a completely bogus invention. The writer has got the history slightly wrong. Even the most recent Pandyan invasion just prior to the arrival of the Portuguese in the 16th century by Aryachakravarthi only invaded the Jaffna peninsula only and the settlement of the Jaffna peninsula was very sparse. All earlier invasions by the Cholas etc. they invaded Anuradhapura and Pollonnaruwa and these was for short periods of time and there were no settlements whatsoever at all as a result. Most Tamils were brought over by the Portugese and the Dutch to work on Tobacco and Indigo plantations set up by the Portugese and the Dutch after the 16th century.

    There were from around 600BC over 43 attempted invasions of the island by the Chola, Kalinga, Pandya, Vijayanagar and other South and Indian Kingdoms etc. However only six succeeded. There was one invasion by a Malayan kingdom too. These were during Sinhala Kings Walagamba, Dhutugemunu, Dhathusena, Vijayabahu I, Parakramabahu II, Buvanekabahu V and Parakramabahu VI times. However invaders invaded Anuradhapura, Pollonnaruwa and stayed only for a short period of time and left the island once they were overwhelmed. There were no settlements due to these invasions except the very last invasion by Aryachakravarthi of the Jaffna Peninsula.

    When looking at Sri Lanka’s history, it is extremely obvious that from 600BC to around 1400AD there were three kingdoms, all Sinhala Buddhist, Ruhuna, Pihiti or Rajarata and Maya or Malayarata. Rajarata encompassed today’s North Central, North Western, Northern and even the Central Province. Ruhunu rata encompassed today’s Uva, Eastern and Southern Provinces. The Kandyan Kingdom from 1400AD encompassed most of the island inclusive of today’s Northern and the Eastern Provinces except for the Jaffna Peninsula. Even the Jaffna Peninsula was invaded and occupied by force by Aryachakravarthi (Pandyan) and actually did belong to Rajarata earlier and later the Kandyan Kingdom.

    Today’s provincial boundaries were drawn up by the British colonialists as per their divide and rule policy and the Sinhala people were not consulted when drawing up these provincial boundaries. In the meantime, most Sri Lankan Tamils of today were actually brought over during Dutch and British times to the Jaffna Peninsula and elsewhere to work on tobacco and indigo plantations which were planted extensively in all the colonies since they were much sought after and made a lot of money for the colonialists. Therefore they are recent arrivals and cannot claim homelands or separate states whatsoever.

    The usual practice when a colonial power hands over their former colonies is to hand it over to its original owners. Therefore the British colonialists should hand over the Kandyan Kingdom to the Kandyan Sinhalese from whom they took it by force. Since the Kandyan Kingdom encompassed the North and the East, these provinces too should be handed over to the Kandyan Sinhalese who are its rightful owners. Even the Jaffna Peninsula should be handed over to the Kandyan Sinhalese since it was part of Rajarata and was forcefully occupied by Aryachakravarthi (Pandyan).

    Since this has now been done already, the TNA, other separatists or the US, UK EU, Canada, Norway, Sweden and India cannot demand that present day Northern or even the Eastern provinces be provided any more powers or be made into federal states since this is totally going against the history and archaeology of the island and totally going against the rights of the Sinhala people who also have fundamental rights to claim the entire island inclusive of the North and the East as their homeland first and foremost.

    History which was dropped as a subject should be taught at school since Sri Lanka has a very long history and it is very beneficial for the next generation to learn the history and archaeology of the island based on actual archaeological findings, archaeological ruins, artefacts, stone inscriptions, ola leaf writings and so on. Otherwise people will believe any bogus history invented by interested parties to their benefit, not based on facts but invented for their own nefarious purposes. Today these settlers such as the Sri Lankan Tamils are inventing history for their own purposes without any archaeological evidence whatsoever to back up such bogus claims. Therefore it is imperative that history is taught as a subject in school as soon as possible.

  5. plumblossom Says:

    The writer has asked for further historical facts and figures. Apart from many Buddhist ruins, the writer has missed a very important part of the Sinhala Buddhist civilization which is the extensive hydraulic system that still prevails in the dry zone of Sri Lanka. The Sinhala kings built over 10,000 (please check this figure in research papers for accuracy) large, medium and small scale irrigation reservoirs in Rajarata and Ruhuna encompassing today’s, North Central, North, Eastern, North Western provinces. For example Yodha Wewa Reservoir in today’s Mannar in the North was built by the Sinhala King Dathusena. The Pavatkulam Reservoir in Vavuniya in the North was built by the Sinhala King Mahasen. The Kanthale Reservoir in the East was built by Sinhala King Agbo II. All of the irrigation reservoirs present in the North Central, North, North Western and East were built by Sinhala Kings.

    In fact, to get the water to flow out of the reservoirs in a smooth manner, the Sinhala Engineers invented the biso kotuwa or the besi kotuwa (as in wathura besi kotuwa), a type of valve pit, or a type of water outlet out falling from the reservoir where water pressure can be managed so as not to damage the tank bund. Another use of the Sinhala irrigation engineer was the anicut where a river’s water was diverted using a dam type structure built across the river partially blocking the river flow and diverting the water into open channel flow canals.

    The amazing and extensive irrigation system in Sri Lanka’s dry zone encompassing today’s North Central, North, East and North Western Provinces encompassing over 10,000 (please check this figure for accuracy) large, medium and small scale reservoirs, open channel flow canals etc. was built by the Sinhala Kings.

    Therefore there is no doubt whatsoever that there was a Sinhala Buddhist civilization encompassing today’s North Central, North, East and North Western Provinces, even just by considering this extensive irrigation reservoir system. R.L. Brohier , H.C.P. Bell, D.LO. Mendis, Henry Parker and many archaeologists, irrigation engineers and surveyors have written many books and research papers on this subject. In fact even the British Governor at the time Sir Henry Ward marvelled at the ingenious Sinhala irrigation engineer and wrote on the subject and Even Sir Emerson Tennent, another British Governor marvelled at the ingenious Sinhala irrigation engineer and wrote on the subject. In fact, the Sinhala irrigation engineer was a master of hydraulics. Not only that, extensive data on rainfall patterns would have had to be collected to figure out the capacity of the irrigation reservoirs. Very accurate surveying of the lay of the land would have had to be carried out to come up with very accurate contour maps in order to figure out the placing of the reservoirs and the traces of the open channel flow canals.

  6. plumblossom Says:

    Apart from highly commending you for taking legal action against the treacherous CBK (Chaura Rejina) regarding the defamatory and utter lies she keeps repeating to defame her rivals, legal action should be taken against her for stating that she will definitely devolve more powers to provincial Councils within the new constitution. Does this evil woman CBK think she owns Sri Lanka and that she is the one who is going to draw up the new constitution of Sri Lanka (according to the wishes of the imperialistic US, UK, EU, Canada, Norway, Sweden, India, the racist TNA and the separatist terrorists)? The constitution of Sri Lanka should satisfy first and foremost the majority of people of this island i.e. the Sinhala people and the Sinhala people firstly do not want to draw up a new constitution nor do they want any more powers whatsoever be provided to the provincial councils especially land, police and fiscal or to illegally merge the North and the East.

    Someone has to go to the supreme court and take action against treacherous CBK for suggesting that she will definitely devolve more powers to provincial councils within the yet to be drawn up constitution since this means the treacherous Ranil, Sirisena, CBK and Mangala have already drawn up a constitution to satisfy the imperialistic US, UK, EU, Canada, Norway, Sweden, India, the racist TNA and the separatist terrorists which is illegal.

  7. Ananda-USA Says:

    FEDERALISM in Sri Lanka?? HERE is an EXAMPLE of what FEDERALISM will bring down upon OUR HEADS!

    Yamapalana GoSL claims refuted by the TNA: WE DO NOT AGREE, No Primacy for Buddhism in Sri Lanka says the TNA!

    Who is telling the TRUTH?

    BOTH the Yamapalanaya and the TNA Separatistyys are DIGGING THEIR OWN GRAVES!
    Tamil party leader dismisses PM’s claim that all parties agree to give Buddhism foremost place in new constitution
    Tue, Oct 11, 2016, 09:15 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

    Oct 11, Colombo: Sri Lanka’s Opposition and main Tamil party, Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Monday rejected the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s a claim that the party has agreed to give Buddhism the foremost place in the new constitution.

    TNA’s spokesman and Jaffna District Parliamentarian M.A Sumanthiran stressed that his party stands for a secular constitution in the multi-religious country and giving one religion a priority is contrary to basic norms.

    “The Tamil National Alliance stands for a secular constitution. In a constitution that gives equality pride of place and assures equal protection of law for everyone – irrespective of race, cast, religion, gender, age etc – a provision which gives one religion the foremost place would be incompatible and contrary to basic norms and we would oppose it,� MP Sumanthiran told Ceylon News in an exclusive interview on Monday.

    Speaking at an event Prime Minister Wickremesinghe emphasized that all political parties and leaders of all religious faiths have no issue in giving priority to protect Buddhism in the country and have declared their consent to the provisions given by the Constitution to protect Buddhism.

    “All Parties in Parliament today, including the Tamil National Alliance, have agreed to keep the articles protecting Buddhism unchanged in the Sri Lanka Constitution,” the Prime Minister said.

    MP Sumanthiran said that the Steering Committee appointed by the Constitutional Assembly has kept for itself certain important issues to discuss and one of those was religion.

    Sumanthiran, who is a member of the Steering Committee, said so far only three issues have been discussed. One is the electoral reforms, the other is executive and the third is power-sharing arrangements. “The issue of religion in Constitution is yet to be discussed.”

    “And it’s wrong to say that all political parties, including the TNA have given their consent to making Buddhism the foremost religion since we have not even begun discussions on it in the Steering Committee,” the TNA spokesman said.
    EXAMPLE of what FEDERALISM will bring!

  8. Ananda-USA Says:

    The TNA has denied the Yamapalana PM’s statement on the PRIMACY of Buddhism.

    HELL NO, WE DO NOT AGREE the TNA says!

    So, WHO IS TELLING THE TRUTH …… the GoSL PM or the TNA??

    Is the PM bull shitting the Sinhala Buddhists??

    ‘No issue in giving priority to protect Buddhism’, Sri Lankan PM emphasizes
    Mon, Oct 10, 2016, 11:50 am SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

    Oct 10, Colombo: Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe emphasized that all political parties and leaders of all religious faiths have no issue in giving priority to protect Buddhism in the country and have declared their consent to the provisions given by the Constitution to protect Buddhism.

    “We do not have a problem with regard to giving priority when protecting Buddhism. All Parties in Parliament today, including the Tamil National Alliance, have agreed to keep the articles protecting Buddhism unchanged in the Sri Lanka Constitution,” the Prime Minister said speaking at an event.

    Speaking at a religious program held at the Sedawatte Veheragoda Viharaya in Kolonnawa, the Premier said not only have the political parties expressed their willingness to protect Buddhism, the Catholic Cardinal as well as the Muslim Imams and Hindu Swamis have also accepted the article in the Constitution.

    “Some are experts at protecting Buddhism through their words, but are equally adept at destroying the religion through their actions. As a State, the President, myself and all of us, protect Buddhism, not through words, but through our actions,” he said.

    The Prime Minister therefore said individuals need not create unnecessary issues over the future of Buddhism under the proposed new constitution.

    “Same as protecting Buddhism, it is our duty as citizens of Sri Lanka, to build a Nation where we accept and respect the different religions and cultures as well,” the Premier pointed out.

    The Prime Minister highlighted that the international Vesak festival will be held in Sri Lanka next year. The government has also planned to hold a Theravada Buddhist Summit in 2018.

    Addressing the gathering Minister of Justice and Buddha Sasana Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe said that the government is committed to improve Buddhist religious places island wide.

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