chapter  5
32 Pages

Federal Discourse and Devolutionary Denouement in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka, formerly known as Ceylon1 since it gained independence from British colonial rule in 1948, has been a unitary state. Federalism has never ever been a part of the country’s political experience. Its first constitution, the Soulbury constitution, established a unitary form of government, which was maintained in the constitutions promulgated in 1972 and 1978. However, the island’s constitutional history has been overshadowed by the issue of devolution of power and powersharing between the Sinhalese (74 per cent, 69 per cent among them being Buddhists) and Sri Lankan Tamils (12.6 per cent).2