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Sri Lanka will soar greater heights under President

November 18, 2005 was a red letter day in the annals of history for all Sri Lankans not merely because of the election of Sri Lanka’s fifth Executive President but more so – it opened a new chapter which changed the destiny of a nation, plagued by terrorism and an economy on the brink of collapse.

When President Mahinda Rajapaksa took office as the First Citizen, the country was grappling with all odds to maintain its sovereignty and territorial integrity since LTTE terrorism was at its peak. Moreover, the country’s economy was in a near state of collapse due to three decades of terrorism and the country’s future was bleak.

Nobody in their wildest dreams ever thought Sri Lanka would bounce back from the ashes of terrorism to achieve the current impressive economic growth it maintains as an emerging nation. Nevertheless, President Rajapaksa had implicit faith in himself and the support of the nation to beat all overwhelming odds.

It is indisputable that due to his illustrious political leadership Sri Lanka vanquished the most ruthless terrorist outfit in the world to enter the superhighway of development and set a goal to become the Wonder of Asia.

Hence, November 18, 2005 went down in history as the date which changed the destiny of a nation and the beginning of a new era under the Lion flag to build a unified nation. With President Rajapaksa completing six years in office as the Executive President, the country has not only won its battle against terror but has also been put on the right track to win the economic war as well.

When President Rajapaksa was first elected to high office in 2005, LTTE terrorism was tearing the country apart, following the controversial Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) entered into by the then UNP Government of Ranil Wickremesinghe.

It was the intrepid and far-sighted political sagacity of President Rajapaksa that inspired the Security Forces to end LTTE terror and liberate the country from the scourge of terrorism. Had it not been for the right political backing and guidance, the Security Forces would not have rewritten Sri Lanka’s military history.

Thanks to the indefatigable efforts of President Rajapaksa and Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the Security Forces liberated the entire country from the clutches of terrorism on May 18, 2009. Only a handful of people were confident that Sri Lanka could achieve this gigantic task. However, the President directed the valiant Security Forces on the right track, supported them wholeheartedly and was indeed a tower of strength to them at all times.

Eradicating terrorism had been a pipe-dream for decades and it was President Rajapaksa who proved in no uncertain terms that Sri Lanka’s Security Forces could perform that Herculean task.

Having paved the way for a peaceful Sri Lanka for all communities to live in harmony, the President embarked on another ambitious program to take Sri Lanka towards economic prosperity. The fruits of the economic drive have already become significant with the development Sri Lanka has achieved with the right economic policies implemented by the Government under the Mahinda Chinthana.

Although the Government had to embark on a massive humanitarian operation against the world’s most barbaric terrorist outfit, the President went ahead with the country’s development. Despite a colossal sum of money being allocated for national security, an equal amount of funds were allocated for development. The Government achieved military success hand in hand with the development projects launched.

What is all the more significant is that none of the subsidies was curtailed although the Government spent staggering amounts of money on defence and development. The Government had granted a massive 96 percent fertiliser subsidy to help farmers and, moreover, increased the budgetary allocations on health and education.

Having accomplished the biggest human rescue operation in world history to liberate over half a million people held by the LTTE as a human shield, President Rajapaksa also ensured that the future of those who were rescued from the jaws of LTTE terror was secure. Hence, the Government expended billions of rupees to develop the Northern and Eastern Provinces. The mega development projects implemented in the two provinces helped achieve a record 22 percent growth rate, compared to the country’s overall performance of 8.2 percent.

The outstanding manner in which the Government took care of displaced persons and resettled them in double quick time was indeed a record which no other country has achieved after a conflict situation.

Even terrorists who had been engaged in an armed struggle against a democratically elected political leadership have been rehabilitated and provided life skills development and the wherewithal to begin a new life as loyal citizens of Mother Lanka. People in the North and the East have now become the major stakeholders of the country’s economic boom.

The Government has taken several far-reaching decisions to boost the rural economy and increase local production. To achieve these goals, many tangible steps have been taken under the Api Wawamu, Rata Nagamu program. Rural agro and dairy products have fetched a better price, enhancing the villagers’ purchasing power, a unique achievement which has encouraged more people in the provinces to take to cultivation which in turn would strengthen Sri Lanka’s economy.

The Government has spared no pains to implement the Mahinda Chinthana policy which aims at socio-economic development of this thrice-blessed land. Sri Lanka has maintained a clear-cut foreign policy whilst protecting its rights as a sovereign nation. The country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity have been the Government’s top priority at all times.

Simultaneously, Sri Lanka has strengthened its international relations and many friendly countries have firmly backed Sri Lanka in its battle against terrorism. Though certain international organisations with vested interests attempted to retard military operations, Sri Lanka’s friendly countries remained a source of inspiration. This is largely due to the strong ties the President has maintained with the leaders of those countries.

All peace-loving and patriotic citizens amply demonstrated their gratitude to the leader who saved the nation from disaster in no uncertain terms by electing him for a second term in office with a landslide victory at the 2010 Presidential election.

No other leader worth his salt in Sri Lanka’s political history had his popularity increased when seeking a second term in office. However, President Rajapaksa stands out and increased his votes by over seven percent, compared to 2005. His soaring popularity at every election bears ample testimony that he is truly a People’s President. Sri Lanka will achieve even greater heights during the next five years under President Rajapaksa’s second term in office.

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