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Mahinda Rajapaksa’s new powers are unnecessary and dangerous

NATIONAL constitutions come in two main types. Some are prescriptive, enshrining freedoms, curtailing the powers of the state and generally hampering would-be dictators. Others, however, tend to the descriptive, and are often revised to catch up with changes that have already happened. Into this class can be put Sri Lanka‘s 1978 constitution, this week amended for the 18th time, with unseemly haste.

      The Sri Lanka described in the revised charter is not a pretty place. It is one where the forms of parliamentary democracy are preserved but the substance has become subordinated to almost untrammelled presidential power.

A Unified Voice for All Tamils

Her assessment is borne out by others. A BBC crew following returning Tamil refugees observed a marked distinction between the poor institutional support they received and the support that Sinhala settlers in the same regions enjoyed from military, government and Buddhist authorities.

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