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DateLine Sunday, 18 May 2008

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Government Gazette

Victory for democracy

The people’s power resulted in a resounding victory for the UPFA at last weekend’s Eastern Provincial Council elections. Their power proved supreme in contrast to the gun culture that had prevailed in the East for over two decades.

The people in the Eastern Province, who have been subjected to untold hardships due to Velupillai Prabhakaran’s terror acts for many years, finally proved to the world the power of the ballot over the bullet.

The Eastern PC victory was a clear mandate to President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his Government to continue its unrelenting battle against terrorism.

By giving a clear majority to the ruling party, the people in the East have given their full consent to the Government to continue the good work under the Eastern Reawakening program, which started immediately after the liberation of the East from the clutches of terrorism.

It is abundantly clear that the results of the first ever election to the Eastern Provincial Council confirms the people’s endorsement of the Government’s policy of restoring democracy and normality to areas earlier held by the LTTE terrorists, and the subsequent development programs implemented under the guidance of the President.

As President Rajapaksa declared after the successful completion of the elections to local Government bodies in the Batticaloa district last March, this is another important milestone in the Government’s policy of restoring the democratic rights of the people in areas once dominated by the LTTE, and ensuring democracy.

The voters of the Eastern Province have amply demonstrated their interest in protecting their democratic rights which were denied to them for nearly two decades by the forces of terror. It was the President’s inspiring leadership that eradicated terrorism and initiated a campaign to liberate the East.

No doubt the results of the Eastern PC elections would be a tremendous sense of joy to the Government to continue the good work, so that the people in the North too could enjoy the same freedom. The recent election emphasises the Government’s policy to create an environment where all people could enjoy democratic rights and live in freedom and harmony.

The Easterners have given a clear mandate for peace by defeating terrorism, strengthening democracy and the development of the country.

On the other hand, it’s a great victory for democracy as the TMVP, a group of terrorists who once believed in the gun culture, now keep faith in the power of the people.

Instead of the guns and ammunition which were associated with their lives, the breakaway wing of the LTTE, now believes in a mandate given by their own people.

The LTTE adopted various tactics to sabotage the election and deprive the Easterners of their democratic rights this time too. On the eve of the elections, they exploded a powerful bomb in a bus in the heart of the Ampara town.

Moreover, on the day of this historic election, they blasted a logistic vessel in the Trincomalee harbour and also fired mortars at a village in the Ampara district. They resorted to many tactics to frighten people and keep voters away from the polling booths.

Against this scenario, the UNP and the SLMC joined hands and employed several unpleasant tactics to woo the voters. They did not have a clear cut policy to win the election, though the Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe who lives in a world of make believe, dreamt how he could prevent a possible 17th election defeat under his tottering leadership.

Instead of going to the people to win their harts, Wickremesinghe played the cry baby role, running to Western diplomats and international organisations, anticipating so-called election violence and rigging. The UNP leader started complaining from the day nominations were called.

This is quite understandable as Wickremesinghe is unable to hide his face in utter frustration. The UNP-SLMC alliance degenerated to low levels holding out different promises to the Tamil and Muslim communities.

The two parties relied on each other’s support to woo voters but they did not offer anything tangible to satisfy the aspirations of the people in the East. In short, they did not understand the pulse of the people.

Having let the UNP to record its 17th successive defeat, Wickremesinghe could do nothing but eat humble pie as the UPFA took a clear five-seat majority to secure power in the EPC.

The deteriorating UNP leadership, whose popularity in on the wane, could only find fault with all and sundry after the defeat, blaming the voters, election officials, election monitors and the Government.

The people in the East were by no means gullible. Wickremesinghe, who once compared Thoppigala to a thick jungle, would perhaps have pondered that all those living there could only be animals. But the people of the East have taught the UNP and the SLMC the lesson of their lives. The UNP issues empty statements to cover the nakedness of its defeat.

The people in the East, by giving a clear mandate to the UPFA, have categorically rejected the racist ideas of the UNP and the SLMC. The Easterners have also rejected the UNP proposal of merging the North and the East again.

The EPC victory will be a morale booster to the military operations conducted by our Security Forces in the North. Our solders have made an immense contribution and made many great sacrifices to turn the East into what it is today.

The UPFA not only routed the UNP and the SLMC but also proved to the LTTE, which openly extended its support to the UNP by resorting to various violent acts. The voters in the East have overcome all barriers to fulfil their dream of a united Sri Lanka.

The Security Forces would soon liberate the North as well and the Government would restore democracy there too, thereby enabling people to live sans fear and being subjected to various LTTE terror acts. The people in the North too would enjoy this ‘luxury’ sooner than later.

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