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

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.