Sri Lanka promises to fully implement the 13th Amendment

President Ranil Wickremesinghe has promised that the 13th Amendment will be “fully implemented” in Sri Lanka.

What exactly is the 13th Amendment?

  • It is the result of the July 1987 Indo-Lanka Accord, signed by then-Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and President J.R. Jayawardene in an attempt to end the ethnic conflict and civil war.
  • The 13th Amendment established Provincial Councils and guaranteed a power-sharing arrangement that would allow all nine provinces in the country to self-govern, including Sinhala majority areas.
  • Education, health, agriculture, housing, land, and police are all devolved to provincial governments.

Why is it contentious?

  • The 13th Amendment carries a lot of baggage from the country’s civil war.
  • Both Sinhala nationalist parties and the LTTE were vehemently opposed.
  • The opposition in Sri Lanka saw the Accord and the legislation that followed as an imprint of Indian intervention.
  • It was widely viewed as an imposition by a neighbour with hegemonic power.
  • The Tamil polity, particularly its dominant nationalist strain, does not consider the 13th Amendment to be sufficiently broad or substantive.
  • Some, on the other hand, see it as an important starting point, something to build on.

Why India objects over this?

  • Provincial administrations have not made much progress due to restrictions on financial powers and the President’s overriding powers.
  • The provisions relating to police and land, in particular, have never been implemented.


  • To date, the Amendment is the only constitutional provision addressing the long-pending Tamil question.
  • In addition to ensuring some degree of devolution, it is regarded as one of the few significant gains made since the 1980s in the face of growing Sinhala-Buddhist majoritarianism.
And get notified everytime we publish a new blog post.