Lankan president appoints task force led by controversial monk for ‘One Country, One Law’

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Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa (File photo)

COLOMBO: Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has appointed a 13-member task force, headed by a hardline Buddhist monk known for his anti-Muslim stance, for the establishment of the ‘One Country, One Law’ concept in the island nation and to prepare a draft Act.
The ‘One Country, One Law’ was an election slogan of Rajapaksa in 2019 when he was elected president with an overwhelming support from the country’s Buddhist majority.
The task force, appointed by President Rajapaksa through a special gazette for the establishment of the ‘One Country, One Law’ concept, is headed by Galagodaaththe Gnanasara, the hardline Buddhist monk who became a symbol of anti-Muslim hatred in the country.
Gnanasara’s Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) or the Forces of Buddhist Power, was implicated in the anti-Muslim riots in 2013.
The task force also has four Muslim scholars as members but no representation has been allowed for the minority Tamils.
It has been entrusted with the job of preparing a draft for the implementation of the ‘One Country, One Law’ concept, according to the gazette released on Tuesday.
The final report is to be submitted by February 28, 2022 after monthly reports to President Rajapaksa on its progress.
Article 168 (1) of the Constitution provides that all existing law would be read subject to the new Constitution.
However, Article 16 (1) provides that all existing law shall be valid and operative, notwithstanding any inconsistency with the chapter on fundamental rights.
The ‘One Country, One Law’ concept was promoted by the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) to win the support of the Sinhala majority as a counter to the rising Islamic extremism.
The attempt to practice the Sharia law in the country was opposed by the nationalist groups, saying it promoted Muslim extremism.
The campaign gained added impetus after the 2019 Easter suicide attack in which over 270 people, including 11 Indians, were killed. The attack was blamed on the extremist Islamic group National Thawheed Jamaat (NTJ).
Nine suicide bombers, belonging to local Islamist extremist group NTJ linked to ISIS, carried out a series of blasts that tore through three churches and as many luxury hotels in Sri Lanka, killing over 270 people and injuring more than 500 people on April 21, 2019.
The Buddhist-majority nation was about to mark a decade since ending a 37-year-long Tamil separatist war in May 2009 when the bombings in 2019 rocked the country.

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