• Short Summary

    In Sri Lanka, the President, Mr. Junius Jayewardene, proclaimed a new constitution at a ceremonial?

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    In Sri Lanka, the President, Mr. Junius Jayewardene, proclaimed a new constitution at a ceremonial sitting of parliament on Thursday. (7 September) The new constitution is the third since the country gained independence from the British in 1948. Reflecting the ruling United National Party's political philosophy of democratic socialism, it is committed to ending more than thirty years of racial strife, making major concessions to the country's racial minorities.

    SYNOPSIS: The ceremonial session was boycotted by the opposition members of the Tamil minority. President Jayewardene brought in a constitution which, he says, has made major concessions to the two and a half million Tamils, who are eighteen percent of the population. It cases restrictions on use of their language and opens more jobs in the government sector for the Tamils, whose ancestors came to the island from Southern India.

    The Tamils called for a boycott of the national day of celebration, and set the day aside to pray for the Liberation of their mainly Hindu population. The Freedom Party of former Prime Minister, Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike, accused the President of giving himself too much power in the constitution, and of shaping a dictatorship.

    To celebrate the constitutions becoming law, bells pealed in the capital of Colombo.

    The festivities included a march-past by children dressed in national costume. Yet, while these youngsters celebrated, children in the Tamil-speaking provinces of the north and east were kept home from school, and the Secessionist Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) flew their flag symbolising their hopes for a separate Tamil state.

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    Reuters - Source to be Verified
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