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DateLine Sunday, 30 September 2007

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'Resettlement process in East completed'

Resettlement and Disaster Relief Minister Rishad Bathiudeen

SO: Minister Bathiudeen what's the latest?

Minister: Nothing special. Everything is going smoothly.

SO: Smoothly? But we heard that you were in a quarrelsome situation with a Deputy Minister. Why is that?

Minister: Yes. That is true. The World Bank has agreed to build over 6,000 houses for the displaced people in the Puttalam district. Deputy Minister Baiz was asking for 35 per cent of houses for his supporters. That is how it began.

SO: Now, what is the latest in the issue?

Minister: I am waiting till the President is back in the country. I think he will do the right thing.

SO: What about the resettlement process in the Eastern Province?

Minister: Well, Everything has been arranged nicely. I feel we were in a hurried journey and over 85 per cent of the process is completed. The resettlement process in Vakarai, Ellaweli, Kattapalei and Vavunativu areas have been completed. Another 35,000 persons will be resettled in Kiran and Chenkaladi before the end of next month.

SO: Who is handling the process?

Minister: Government Agents' officers are playing a major role. And then the MP Basil Rajapaksa will lead the progress.

SO: Do you have any difficulties working with him?

Minister: No, never. He is a nice man and it is very easy to work with him. The obstacle in the resettlement process is owing to landmines.


'CFA should be changed'

UNP General Secretary and (Kandy District) Parliamentarian Tissa Attanayake.

SO: Mr. Attanayake, What's the latest on your side?

MP: We are very busy these days in propaganda campaigns and party organising activities islandwide. We have planned to hold the Jana Rala rally in all major towns.

SO: What is this news that the UNP had changed its stance over the political solution to the national problem?

MP: No, most of the people have taken a wrong picture of what we said. On the other hand, we have never said that the Federal or the Unitary is the way to solve this problem. What we said was a system which does not divide the country and is acceptable to all the communities in the country is needed.

SO: Then how was this story created?

MP: Yes. The Opposition Leader questioned all why can't we make our own system instead of following these imported systems. The problem is with the sharing of power. Then we can think and work out something new which suits for the country. That's what he suggested at the meeting. Several media painted a wrong picture.

SO: At the same time, the necessity of amending the CFA also had been discussed. Is that true?

MP: Yes, it was signed almost six years ago. Then, it is simply understandable fact that with every change with the passage of time, it should also be changed.

SO: Do you have proposals for it?

MP: Whether the answer is 'yes' or 'no', that is not our duty. My problems, even after we gave the government an open cheque, why don't they use it? Why don't you highlight and speak about some facts of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. Mr. Wickremesinghe was pointing that issue and emphasised the timely need of sharing power in a correct way.

SO: Do you think that the APRC would not bring any proposals to solve the national problem?

MP: No. It is a dream. They themselves don't know where they go.

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