Sri Lankan presidential candidate says no to federal model of devolution to ethnic Tamils

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The opposition candidate in Sri Lanka's presidential election has pledged to reject demands from ethnic Tamil leaders for a federal model to solve the country's decades-long ethnic conflict if he wins next month's vote.

Maithripala Sirisena also agreed Tuesday with a Buddhist nationalist political party to preserve the constitutional prominence given to Buddhism.

Sirisena made the pledges when the National Heritage Party led by a Buddhist monk signed a pact to support Sirisena in his campaign against incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa in the Jan. 8 election.

Sri Lanka's military in 2009 crushed a 25-year separatist insurgency to create an independent state for the country's ethnic minority Tamils.

Tamil leaders say they have abandoned separatism but want a federal devolution of power to the Tamil-majority north and eastern provinces.