Colombo, Oct 7 (PTI) Sri Lanka’s main Tamil opposition party TNA has sought the merger of the Northern and Eastern provinces as most of the Tamil speaking people live there.

During his meeting with UK Minister of State for Asia and the Pacific, Mark Field, Tamil National Alliance (TNA) leader R Sampanthan said that the Sinhala majority should not be afraid of the merger as there will be a constitutional protection, preventing any move towards separation.

He met Field yesterday here to apprise him on the current status of the reconciliation process with the Tamils, a TNA statement said.

The TNA leader stressed that since the majority of Tamils were living in the island’s north and east, the two provinces must be merged.

He said that discussion had been going on over power- sharing with the Tamil minority since mid 1950s.

Sampanthan told Field that despite attempts being made to resolve the conflict by sharing power with the Tamils, “the only instance of a constitutional mechanism was the 1987 adopted thirteenth amendment (13A) influenced by India, which created the system of provincial councils”.

The 13th amendment forced a temporary merger of the two provinces subject to a referendum there, but the Supreme Court, in 2006, ruled the merger as “unconstitutional” and the two province must be separated.

The TNA leader also told Field that the proposed new Constitution may be the last chance to achieve reconciliation through an acceptable sharing of power.

The process to make new Constitution, which began in 2016, has reached its drafting stage. A steering committee report was released last month which outlined the thinking of all political parties.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.