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DateLine Sunday, 23 March 2008

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Bankrupt politicians

Restoration of full democracy and setting up a provincial administration in the Eastern Province would be completed by mid May. The Government has successfully conducted the Local Government elections in the Batticaloa District under the first phase towards the restoration of democracy.

The Batticaloa LG polls was an overwhelming success - it was conducted in a free and fair manner, the faith in the ballot by former LTTE cadres of the Pillaiyan-led TMVP, the enthusiasm shown by the people in Batticaloa who exercised their democratic right after 14 long years and the ruling UPFA's victory at the Batticaloa Municipal Council.

The United National Party and the Tamil National Alliance, which boycotted the election, fearing that they would be badly rejected by the people are now eating humble pie. Their belief was that the Government would not be in a position to hold a free and fair election. But this has been disproved as the biggest local election watchdog - PAFEREL, too has accepted that it was a free and fair poll.

Greatly perturbed by the latest developments, the people's support for the TMVP and the rejection of the LTTE terror acts, Velupillai Prabhakaran ordered his 'democratic puppets' in the TNA to boycott the Eastern Provincial Council elections too.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa has likened the democratic exercise in Batticaloa at the recently concluded election to the country obtaining universal franchise for the first time. With the successful conclusion of the Batticaloa LG elections, the main focus was directed not only with regard to the Eastern polity but also to the international arena.

The Government's bold decision enabled Sri Lanka to demonstrate to the entire world that we are a nation which respects democracy and the people's power.

After the liberation of the Eastern Province last year, President Rajapaksa was determined to restore democracy as soon as possible. A Provincial Council for the East would be a reality in May and the Government's aim is to implement same for the North as well.

Democracy has triumphed in the East defeating terrorism, enabling the common masses to elect their own representatives to rule the local bodies. The Government has entrusted the grave responsibility of finding solutions to people's problems to the elected representatives from the East.

The gun culture that prevailed under the LTTE's terror rule will now be replaced with democracy and justice. Political opportunists cannot bear this stark fact. Bankrupt politicians who have been rejected by the people in toto are making desperate attempts to topple the Government.

Such politicians would stoop to anything in their greed for power. In point of fact, they are already selling the image of our country and the nation. Human rights and media freedom are two of the most lethal weapons in their armoury.

In a desperate situation, political opportunists join hands with the so-called human rights organisations and international non-Governmental organisations (INGOs) to paint a gloomy picture of Sri Lanka. The so-called media associations, who cry to high heaven in the name of media freedom, also sell our country's image for the dollars credited to their accounts after each 'protest'.

Will any other Government put up with this? Though Sri Lanka is battling the deadliest war against the most ruthless terrorist organisation in the world, President Rajapaksa and his Government have been patient enough to tolerate all these characters, INGOs and human rights bodies, which would never be entertained by any country facing terrorism.

How many purported visits have diplomats, international organisations' representatives, INGO agents and the so-called peace envoys made to Prabhakaran's Wanni jungles? Most of them could not even meet the terrorist leader but returned empty-handed after shaking hands with the LTTE's political wing chief or regional leaders.

Though the frequency of these visits increased after Ranil Wickremesinghe's controversial Ceasefire Agreement (CFA), they apparently failed to make any contribution towards peace, but contributed immensely in granting a 'diplomatic facelift' to a group of terrorists.

These so-called high profile visits to the Wanni' had not yielded any tangible results in taking the peace process forward. On the other hand, the LTTE exploited such visits for propaganda purposes.

The Government should be commended for putting a halt to such visits. We hail the genuine peace efforts by our friendly countries and international organisations, but their conduct should not affect Sri Lanka's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

As the Foreign Ministry pointed out last week, Sri Lanka always appreciates the important and constructive role played by the European Union as one of the Co-Chairs of the Peace Process and also underscores the useful contribution of Norway as the facilitator. But everything should be in keeping with the laws of the land.

We hope the Co-Chairs would continue to support Sri Lanka to find a negotiated solution and also support the Government's battle against terrorism while respecting Sri Lanka's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

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Gamin Gamata - Presidential Community & Welfare Service
Ceylinco Banyan Villas
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