24 March, 2023


Constitutional Reform: Will Gota Become A Victim Of His Own Rhetoric?

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa reiterated in his address to Parliament last Thursday, something that he had been saying for some time—that the 19th Amendment will be ‘removed’ and a new Constitution suitable to the country will be enacted. He also said that while salutary aspects of the proportional representation system would be preserved, changes will be made to ensure stability of the Parliament and people’s direct representation.

However, Ministers and leaders of constituent parties of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna have not all being sending out the same message. Justice Minister Ali Sabry, who the whole country knows is very close to the President, was quoted as saying that not all provisions of 19th Amendment will be changed; for example, the 5-year term of the President and the two-term limit for the Presidency would continue. Ultra-Sinhala-nationalists like Gevindu Kumaratunga, Wimal Weerawansa and Udaya Gammanpila, participating in the debate on the statement of Government policy, called for the abolition of the 13th Amendment. Reacting immediately to these calls, Minister Douglas Devananda, a staunch supporter of the 13th Amendment, assured that the 13A will not be changed.

Sinhala nationalists would ideally like to go back to the first-past-the-post (FPP) system but this is unlikely to happen. What may be attempted is the re-introduction of the 12.5% cut-off point found originally in the 1978 Constitution. This was applied to local elections in 1979 resulting in smaller parties being ‘cut-off’ from representation. The cut-off point was brought down to 5% in 1988. The widely-held belief is that President R Premadasa changed the cut-off point in return for SLMC leader Ashraff’s support but DEW Gunasekera rubbished such claims recently and said that smaller parties had been agitating for such a change for a long time and that it was done with cross-party support.

Thus, smaller parties are likely to oppose an increase in the cut-off point. Dinesh Gunawardena is known to be strongly opposed to any change. His MEP has had bad experiences even with the 5% threshold. In 1994, the MEP would have got a seat in Colombo if not for the minimum 5% required. The same happened to Left parties, contesting as the Socialist Alliance, in Galle in 1989. A higher cut-off point is likely to be opposed by Devananda’s EPDP, Athullah’s National Congress and Pillayan’s TMVP who would not have secured representation if the cut-off point was higher. Sinhala representation in Vanni would also be in danger.

What changes would be brought to 19A is still not clear. It is very likely that the dual-citizen clause will be removed and the President would be permitted to hold Ministries. Under 19A, Parliament cannot be dissolved for 4 years and 6 months, unless a 2/3 majority requests. Even SLPP Parliamentarians would not be happy going back to the pre-19A position which permitted the President to dissolve at any time— a certain Sword of Damocles over their heads. In any case, the SLPP has a 2/3 majority to ensure early elections if the need arises.

Commenting on changes to 19A, former Speaker Karu Jayasuriya recently reminded the country that it was passed with cross-party support. He urged that the ‘baby should not be thrown away with the bathwater’. Rather, 19A should be analysed for any technical shortcomings and changes made with cross-party support, in the same way it was adopted.

A constitutional lawyer aligned to Sajith Premadasa’s SJB told the Colombo Telegraph that the Government should not take it for granted that any change can be made to 19A with a 2/3 majority only and without a referendum, just because 19A was passed without a referendum. His argument is that 19A strengthened the sovereignty of the people. Any dilution of sovereignty would therefore require approval at a referendum. ‘The pre-19A Constitution is not the minimum standard of people’s sovereignty’ he opined.

What about a brand new Constitution, now that the Government has a 2/3 majority? Sinhala nationalists have been pressing hard for a new Constitution. ‘Yuthukama’ leader Gevindu Kumaratunga been advocating a “sabhyatva rajya”, a civilizational state, a strongly unitary one. Dr. Asanga Welikala, writing for Groundviews, had the following to say on the Kumaratunga’s proposals: “The Yuthukama proposal can be described as a mixture of radicalism and conservatism. It is radical in the way it seeks to reformulate the constitutional philosophy of the state from the nation-state to the civilisation-state paradigm. But it is conservative in the way it seeks to change the text and institutions of the 1978 Constitution. This is an entirely rational strategy for those seeking to instantiate a Jathika Chinthanaya constitution in Sri Lanka. All they have to do is merge the legal and the political dimensions of Sri Lankan constitutionalism, so that the legal constitution derived from the West better serves the aims of the political constitution derived from the Jathika Chinthanaya of the Sinhala-Buddhist civilisation-state.”

Any proposal for the abolition of devolution is likely face stiff opposition from within the SLPP, from the Opposition and from across the Palk Strait. The EPDP’s Devananda has fired the first salvo. The LSSP’s Tissa Vitarana and the lone CP MP from Matara are bound to make some noise but what they would finally do is uncertain. Left parties opposed the 18th Amendment too initially but finally voted for it. Devananda, Pillayan and Angajan Ramanathan will find it extremely difficult to face the electorate having supported the abolition of Provincial Councils.

What of India? The TNA leadership met the Indian High Commissioner last Friday. The Indian view has been “leaked” to the media by MP MA Sumanthiran, obviously with Indian blessings. According to the TNA spokesman, the High Commissioner “reiterated India’s longstanding position on peace and reconciliation and the full implementation of the Thirteenth Amendment”. High Commissioner Baglay had assured the TNA delegation that India has a “strong commitment to the principles underlying the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord and that the Accord cannot be viewed as a mere piece of paper” and further that New Delhi is “closely watching” developments in Sri Lanka in regard to all issues including the 13A. If the Government moves to abolish 13A, the High Commissioner said, that there would be “interactions at the highest level” between India and Sri Lanka.

A political scientist in Colombo, speaking to Colombo Telegraph, said that those who are pushing for a new Constitution forget that it would necessarily have to be approved by the people at a referendum. That would give the Opposition an opportunity to unite. “It would be the Government versus all others”. The lakhs of opposition-voters who did not trek to the polling booths on 05 August would now have a reason to go and vote. Also, the reform process is certain to take long, one year at the least. “God knows what the economic situation will be in post-Covid Sri Lanka then and we are still not even in a post-Covid situation”. Hard decisions will surely have to be taken in the coming months, the call for tightening belts is a matter of time.

He opined that the SLPP Government is unlikely to abolish Provincial Councils for another reason. “PCs also serve another purpose; they provide positions for the second-level leaders at district level who failed to enter Parliament”. The Government will the victim of its own rhetoric, he stated. India will not stand by watching PCs being abolished. 13A is part of the Indo-Lanka accord. On the other hand, a new Constitution that does not abolish PCs will be opposed by the very forces that propelled the Rajapaksas to power. As the well-known Sinhala saying goes: “Gedera giyoth ambu nasee; maga hitiyoth tho nasee”. Like the man into whose sack a snake had crept— “your wife will die if you go home; you will die if you don’t”. (By Ranmal Weerasekera)

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Latest comments

  • 7

    The Shakespearian phrase “Hoist with his own petard” might apply here to this new and all-powerful government.

    We the people collectively wait with bated breath for the implosions!

    • 1

      They the rulers have manipulated srilanken press in favour of their political survival.

      People are made to believe that they managed COVID crisis, even if entire world incl EU would brand them as a covid risk country.

      Please see the following statistics about the countries whose COVID death rates are shown as lower.

      Sri Lanka 2,947 PCR tests done 195,025 9,102 Propulation 21,426,033

      Rwanda 2,78 PCR tests done 357,083 27,479 12,994,745

      Jordan 1,532 11 150 1 728,339 71,285 10,217,286

      Iceland 2,058 10 6,025 29 194,963 570,808 341,556

      Malta 1,577 10 3,57 23 171,103 387,364 441,711

      Mauritius 346 10 272 8 205,285 161,379 1,272,071

      Bermuda 167 9 2,683 145 36,998 594,403 62,244

      Taiwan 487 7 20 0.3 85,779 3,601 23,822,960

      Comoros 417 7 478 8 872,087

      Barbados 157 7 546 24 15,332 53,342 287,426

      Aruba 1,464 6 13,704 56 18,045 168,912 106,831

      Réunion 1,117 6 1,246 7 35,419 39,521 896,213

      Myanmar 441 6 8 0.1 142,516 2,617 54,461,313

      Belize 648 5 1,626 13 6,128 15,373 398,608

      Saint Martin 176 5 4,541 129 2,449 63,19 38,756

      Papua New Guinea 361 4 40 0.4 14,439 1,61 8,969,965

      Monaco 154 4 3,92 102 51,953 1,322,599 39,281

      Botswana 1,308 3 555 1 93,42 39,618 2,358,025

      Brunei 143 3 326 7 49,399 112,766 438,065

  • 12

    I have said it once; I’ll say again. 13A is a Trojan Horse.
    Fooling the locals is one thing. Fooling the Indians is another.

    • 9

      Correct description for 13th amendment is hangman’s noose. It is now around the neck of Sri Lanka and will be allowed to remain there to hoodwink Tamils. But if Sri Lanka acts funny noose will be tightened to bring it down.

      • 3

        Dear Dr GS

        There are good sinhalaese in this country but most of them would not mingle with RAJAKASHES and their sympathisers becasue most of them cant share much with them. I am a born buddhist as almsot everyone down there, but for some time now, I dont repsect lanken kind of SKIN heads wrapped around by sivuru. Most o fthem are hidden hypocrites or stupid men not knowing for what purpose they entered to SANGA hood.
        Look at the video below, that will show you the bits better.. They are no better to lay people when it goes to fight each other, but being dependent on the ALMS being offered to them. Ghansara should be a XYY criminals that are COMPARABLE imprisoned in the prisons such as Guanthanabe.

        Minorities will have no voice in the days to come. All good leaders, CBK and RW are out of active politics now. Situation is like the barbarians conqured driving away the good leaders.
        We need to punish that Gamraathe bitch s son of the nation for paving the way Rajakashe to come back. I have no doubt the bugger will be punished by every means in the days to come.

    • 6

      India no longer supports 13A. after the de-merger. Just look at the Eastern Provincial Council. It is not under Tamil Nadu people anymore. Tamil parties have only 3 seats from the East this time! Shows where it is going.

      Now India fears EPC will go the way of the Saudi-Pakistan-USA axis. India wants 13A removed. Rajafucksas brutally hacked Tamil north-east in 2008 by parting north leg and east leg. India does not want the spoils.

      • 1

        Something very similar to this is written in Lanka Lies most probably by you
        On Friday (21) a TNA delegation called on the Indian High Commissioner during which the latter congratulated the TNA for their performance at the recent general elections. At the meeting, the Indian High Commissioner reiterated India’s longstanding position on peace and reconciliation and full implementation of the Thirteenth Amendment. TNA Leader R. Sampanthan said the promises made to further strengthen the 13th Amendment to the Constitution must be fulfilled adding the existing issue need a permanent solution. Sampanthan believes India would continue to provide its support to solving issues as the Government of Sri Lanka had given a promise to the Indian Government with respect to the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. MP Dharmalingam Siddharthan said India would intervene if the amendments to the constitution would pose a direct impact on the Indo-SriLanka agreement.

        Poor thing dream on racist or sorry Dilruk

      • 1

        Gatam your memories are short and your analysis is poor. For reasons better known to them, India did not object when north and east were de-merged by supreme court, as at that time LTTE was active and India did not want east to go to LTTE. But after Karuna split and LTTE was cleared from east, India wanted to have elections in east and to make Pillayan as the chief minister. As Mahinda wanted India’s help to fight LTTE, he acceded to India’s request. But after LTTE was defeated, Mahinda forgot about India, dissolved the east provincial council and installed Muslims in power. Government has been playing divide and rule there promoting Muslims against Tamils. Now they want to continue it by promoting Tamils against Muslims. Karuna and Pillayan have been put up by government for this purpose. Inaction of TNA has helped them to gain confidence of a section of Tamils by saying that if elected, they will work with government and get back the lands appropriated by Muslims. If they fail to keep their promise, then it is the match over for them. (CONTD)

      • 0

        (CONTD) India may not press Sri Lanka about implementation of 13A, but it will not agree to take it off, because it will be a noose to tighten Sri Lanka, if it acts funny. Eastern province may have elected only 3 TNA candidates, but there are from other parties and a lone TNA national list MP. Even after years of ethnic cleansing, Tamils are the majority group in eastern province, and when displaced Tamils living in north and India are resettled in east, they will get the overall majority. India refused to give Sri Lanka Tamil refugees citizenship because they have a plan to resettle them back. In the provincial council elections, Tamil parties may contest separately, but after that they will join to take control. Tamils in east feel that appeasement politics by TNA only brought disaster to them and now want to assert themselves. If India is frightened, why did SLMC go to meet Indian High Commissioner and ask him for help. The best way to prevent EPC going in a way inimical to Indian interest is either to re-merge the provinces or to install a powerful Tamil rule in EPC.

  • 2

    A political scientist in Colombo, speaking to Colombo Telegraph, said that those who are pushing for a new Constitution forget that it would necessarily have to be approved by the people at a referendum.


    Noor Nizam – Peace and Political Activist, Political Communication Researcher, SLFP/SLPP Stalwart & Convener “The Muslim Voice”.

    • 7

      Ali Sabry and political scientists don’t decide. Gotabaya decides. He has already decided that the Constitution goes and a new home grown Constitution will replace it. Game over.

      • 2

        “Ali Sabry and political scientists don’ decide”. Yes , you are
        right here but ” Gotabaya decides”. That is not the case .
        Gota was Imported by Mahinda and Co ! How to use it , the
        company decides !

    • 3


      When you walk around in your home country Malaysia do you see an Eagle sitting on those Palm trees? Or is that you your dual citizenship are Saudi Arabia and Lankawe?

      Listen, did you read Amir’s Speech in Sainthamaruthu, Yesterday? He is trying making sense out of how UNP Muslims (Rather all Muslims) worked highhanded and brought down Ranil to his knee. The Cranes fly from lake to lake when water dries in them. Catching fish in over flowing lake is one, but irrigating its basic material, water for their local lakes and drying it out is another one. Now Vaalaiththodam’s Sinhala MPs saying Muslims MPs should give them some space if they want them win in an election. Milking a bull with hormones is different, but milking a calf, which is still on mother’s milk, inserting hormone needles into it, is not sin prevented in Islam. A Muslim News, (Not Slap party stalwart “Muslim Voice”- This one concentrate on 1.News-2.Muslim News) says yesterday Ali Sabre did not attend a party put together for Muslim MPs. Is Sabre is now outcasted Muslim from Arabians like Nizam, Hakeem, Richard et al? How come the National Parties’ Muslim MPs putting one victory party for all Muslim MPs to celebrate election victory? Is that election victory in Lankawe or a victory in Lankawe to suck it out Lankawe?

    • 3

      Is that Muslim Brotherhood Union of MPs? Or Is that because Lankawe, a new Muslim Nation, is now a colonial state of His Majesty, Abdul Azzeze? Or is that Muslim Stalwarts and MPs grouping against Slap Party the same way they did to Ranil? Please explain me how will it look like, after the American election if, President Trump and Senators Joe and Kamala having an election victory party for all American Christians MS? Or Can Slap Party Sinhala Buddhist Mps and SJB Buddhist MS would do together?
      Children throw stones to beehives for fun and then run. But, nevertheless they go stung by bees. In 1915 some rowdy boys decided to throw stone to peaceful, law following group. That is how the racial riots introduced to Ceylon. Now Rashad making oratorical speeches that one group asked for separate country so the country has gone poor. Rishard is said, went to Colombo with his possession in a shopping bag. Without any businesses, Sinhala Media said he is 2nd richest politician is South Asia. His earlier boss wondered how he got the 5,000acres land. Can he reply back to those people, how, while separatist war was making country poorer, he got richer with a Parliament MP position?

    • 2

      Noor Nizam, the self styled man of many faces

      From where are you? Are you in Sri Lanka? I have Never heard of you or of your so-called “Muslim Voice”. I asked some friends involved in Social Activities about you but they have NOT heard of you and those who know about your Claims of being this and that used some choice language about you which I can’t repeat.

      Please, will you spare us the agony of having to read through your Various “Claims” which NO ONE is interested in?

  • 5

    The President in his speech, addressing the Legislature stated: ” I have set up an Advisory Committee comprising leading Buddhist Monks to seek advice on Governance”. This takes my memories back to the 1958/59 era. My only hope is that “History” will not be repeated.

  • 5

    Supreme Court has interpreted that based on the 13th amendment the land powers are with the central government. Police powers do fall under provincial councils.But have never been devolved. If at all,there will be an amendment to get the police powers back. Apart from that the 13th amendment will not be scrapped.

    • 3

      RAVI PERERA Sinhala speaking Demela

      “Supreme Court has interpreted that based on the 13th amendment the land powers are with the central government.”

      Is that so?
      Could you cite evidence.

      “Apart from that the 13th amendment will not be scrapped.”

      Is Gota worried about Antonov An-32s and Mirage 2000s flying over his head?

      Remember, Hindians will not hesitate to mess around in their Sinhala state of Hindia.

      If I were you I will stay inside the house as I don’t want Hindian chapati flour bags dropping on by head.

      • 2

        Ravi Perera, there is news that government through their catchers in New Delhi had canvassed India to agree to drop police and land powers from the devolved list, for which India has refused. 13th amendment is an agreement between two countries on which Sri Lanka supreme court has no jurisdiction. Therefore their two cent opinion has to be dumped into the dust bin. Even in the de-merger issue, Supreme court has in order not to antagonize India has cleverly stated how the two provinces could be merged again. So everything depends on what India wants to do, because a powerful Tamil autonomous state will be a bulwark against Chinese aggression.

  • 9

    What ever said and done govt’s will come and go and the poor will suffer.

  • 3

    The entanglement of Lankawe is not with India or America or Japan…..It is the Amina, the lender. His is not interested in Lankawe Constitution or Economy or Civid-19. He is like the Brahmin the Harichandra story. Even in situation Harichandra sells his wife and child to settle his loan, he is going to put his hand on his head & cry “Oh my money is gone”.
    Have anyone read a line China said about the Lankawe constitution? The only interest of China is building White Elephants by giving commission to Royals and getting them to sell it for the loan. There is no way to get China out. So that is the part decide how India and Lankawe going to get together, but not anything much in the constitutional change. Recently China has warned India “If you go into South, I will come in by North”. India deeply drenched into China by trade, many time more complex than Lankawe got tangled by loans. This kind joint venture was the mega idea of Sonia. After her term in government last time, she was the fifth richest political woman in the world. Lankawe abrogated many deeds and pacts, including UNHRC’s resolution. Indo-Lanka Pact, just one in all of them, cannot hold unlike as many think. If the constitutional changes are not favorable for it China the Amina will walk into Lankawe.

  • 4

    Tamils should not accept any “Secret Solution”. They should go International investigation and based on that they should have their self-determination rights restored. Otherwise, when it wants, Lankawe will dismiss its CJ and send the Rapist Army to take over the control of North East. Then the Secret Solution will evaporate into the thin air, even worse than 13A. Not any terms should be accepted in line with any fake models like Civilization State. None of the UN recommended conventions should be left behind in the agreement of the final solution. Desavalamai is not one needed, but Religious Secularism in dead important. If that is missed Bald Heads will catch Tamil children and shave heads and convert them as Tamil worst enemies. The left out girls will be caught by ISIS Mullahs and used as human bombs to bring down Tamil Churches.

  • 5

    Sri Lanka never ever implements 13A. Sri Lanka, only the country that gave the best guard of honor to Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi by one of the sailors and last salute by LTTE. Sri Lanka gave a good lessons to India not to interfere with another free and democratic country

    • 3

      N. Pererass

      “Sri Lanka never ever implements 13A.”

      We know, Hindian will enforced it from their Sultanate of New Delhi for you.

      ” Sri Lanka, only the country that gave the best guard of honor to Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi by one of the sailors and last salute by LTTE.”

      It was an unforgettable day.
      Then of course Sri Lanka is the only shameless country that regularly goes to Sultanate of New Delhi with begging bowl for aid, grant, loans, pocket money, currency swap facilities, support under Hindian export guarantee scheme, ….
      Do know how much you owe Hindians to date?

      When did Sri Lanka fight a war against Hindia?
      It was LTTE which fought against IPKF while the patriotic members of Sri Lankan armed forces were hiding behind VP’s bum and Shavendra was hiding inside presidential palace.

      What on earth are you talking about?

  • 5

    One law for all.

    No Muslim law, no Kandyan law, no Sharia law, no Vesawalami law. End of story.

    • 1

      GATAM ,

      One law for all .
      Have we already achieved one class for all ? One Caste for all ?
      What is one law for all ? All become Buddhists ? Let the
      Pohottuwa become Buddhists first ! They are all fake Buddhists !
      One law for all is only a song ! Two third is not enough for that !

  • 2

    Part 1

    Nothing will happen to 13A . 13A is some form of internal self-determination.

    There is an interesting case decided by the Supreme Court of Canada relating to this issue. (Nelson – Political science – Canadian Politics on the Web/Quebec). Certain questions were referred to the Canadian Supreme Court by the Governor-in-Council. In August 1998 the Supreme Court issued its carefully-worded ruling to all these questions. One question was – Does a province have a right to secede from Canada under international law. According to the Supreme Court of Canada, a right to secession only arises under the principle of self-determination of people at international law where “a people” is governed as part of a colonial empire; where “a people” is subject to alien subjugation, domination or exploitation; and possibly where “a people” is denied any meaningful exercise of its right to self-determination within the state of which it forms a part. In other circumstances, peoples are expected to achieve self-determination within the framework of their existing state.

  • 2

    Part 2

    Examples of countries that got independence (a) Ceylon – governed as a part of colonial empire (b) East Timor – subject to alien subjugation …. and (c) Kosovo – denied any meaningful exercise of its right to self-determination within the state of which it forms a part. Note here that Kosovo’s autonomy was abolished by Serbia earlier.

    It is very risky to abolish 13A .

    • 0

      Hey Pohotuwa,
      If the wind is North East, India gets it(13A) if the Wind is North West, then Western countries get it, (What ever the format Tamils feel satisfied; i.e. no 13A). But for “13A” or no “13A ” China shouldn’t show the Red Flag. If China flies the red flag more in Lankawe, you don’t get 13A nor not 13A. So Keep a portrait or statue of President XIN Jinping in you bedroom and every night pray him before & after you go to sleep.

  • 2

    There is an interesting case decided by the Supreme Court of Canada relating to Self-determination. Self- determination includes both internal self-determination and external self-determination.

  • 3

    If this Kalla kallathoni war criminal president listens to his brothers and changes the only 2 term condition to one which does not restrict one to serve continuous terms he will be the Yakko’s biggest MKR FOOL.?
    If this re+striction is removed, I can assure the world that the greedy for power Alibaba Mahindan Rajapuka will use his popularity with the raje modayas will see to the sad fact of becoming the next SLPP candidate.
    The only way in which for the kallathoni president to extend his tenure as the president will be to convince his pretty boy war crim military dudes to stage an armed force manipulated coup take over of the country.
    These power avaricious sickoes will definitely try their level best to get rid of the 13th Amendment and the Provincial Council systems.
    Their 4 northern/eastern province MP’s will have to contend with the masses of these areas as the article very clearly states will not be a happy lot and if another election will be held the SLPP will be reduced to a zero seat loser.

    • 1

      Please read :

      19A says no dual citizens. But Kallathoni King got an overwhelming majority.
      19A says no second term. Old King got a PM position that was balanced with EP position.
      A 100MPs out of 160 SLFP members who said no to 18A and yes to 19A in March 2015, are now with Slap Party, saying no 19A yeas to 20A. “POthai vantha pOthu puthiyilaiyE puthi vantha pOthu nanbar illaiyE” (When drunken there was no wisdom, when the wisdom return, there were no friends any more)But that is their way of life.
      Muslims leaders oppose “one country one law”. Democracy allowed, and Badiuddin imposed Standardization on Hindu Tamil & Christian Tamils, but gave special treatment to Muslims Tamils. UNP Ranil imposed 19A on Sinhala Buddhists but sought special treatment for him, as PM. 19A is the Badiuddin’s standardization on Sinhala Buddhists. Sinhala Buddhists have votes & they want to do something. Let them do. You have your self-determination under UN charter, you go on your way. Why do you want to be stuck in Lankawe and asking another Thani Azhaku like Hakeem?

  • 2

    Mahinda is the most respected among the brothers and nothing can ever
    change that , other three are holding him on his due position . Gota will
    sacrifice his position to anyone Mahinda wants ! The family has a vision .
    Their vision may not be the country but their mission has to give
    something back to the country . It is not a difficult issue , just take
    something away from the Tamils and Muslims ! That’s it , mission
    complete on an instalment basis . Burning Muslim Covid casualties
    gave the Raiapakshas at least one million new Majority votes !

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