Sri Lanka turns to social media for help in drafting new constitution


Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Sunday announced officials will use social media to seek public opinion on a proposed new constitution aimed at preventing a return to ethnic war.

Wickremesinghe said Sri Lanka will use social media to help draft a new statute to devolve more powers to minority Tamils and ensure unity after decades of war.

“Sri Lanka could be the first country to get views expressed on social media (to contribute to) drafting a new constitution,” he said. “We want to seek the view and opinions of young people. Participate in this process.”

Sites such as Facebook and Twitter played a key role in supporting Wickremesinghe’s election in August as well as during the January 2015 presidential election at which he supported Maithripala Sirisena.

Since coming to power, the new government has set up free Wi-Fi zones in many public places to encourage the use of web-based services.

The government is opening a new office in Colombo on Monday to start receiving written proposals from the public for the new constitution.

Wickremesinghe traveled to the former war-torn zone of Jaffna in the north Friday to pledge to devolve political power to minority Tamils.

He has also promised to prosecute both state forces and Tamil rebels accused of war crimes in the final stages of the island’s 37-year-old separatist war, in line with pledges to the U.N. Human Rights Council last year.

Sri Lanka’s year-old government has begun drafting a new constitution aimed at resolving the drawn-out ethnic conflict which ended in 2009 and claimed 100,000 lives.

The issue has been fraught, however, with hard-line members of the Sinhalese majority opposing a federal system that would ensure more political power for minority Tamils.

Some minorities fear a “unitary” constitution will see them lose out while moderate Tamils who want to remain in a single union have pressed for greater power in areas where they are in the majority.