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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2731

An Election for Province that was Under Fascism with 60 % Turnout, a Great Success – Foreign Minister

By Walter Jayawardhana

London, 11 May, (Asiantribune.com): It is a great success of the government’s policy when it holds an election with a voter turn out of sixty percent in the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka when one considers the province was ruled by a a Fascist dictatorship only six months ago said Rohitha Bogollagama , Minister of Foreign Affairs in Birmingham England on Saturday. Foteign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama :" All governments for the last thirty years did lot of sacrifices to rid the province of terrorism. But this was the first time; concrete steps were taken, after defeating terrorism to make democracy and true representative government in the area installed."Foteign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama :" All governments for the last thirty years did lot of sacrifices to rid the province of terrorism. But this was the first time; concrete steps were taken, after defeating terrorism to make democracy and true representative government in the area installed."

Addressing a gathering at Jethavana Viharaya in Birmingham the visiting Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka said, “ the government’s policy is to introduce true representations of the people of the Eastern Province by devolving the powers to the province under a unitary system of government protecting the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence after defeating terrorism prevailing in the area.”

Venerable K.Gunawansa Thero, the Chief incumbent of the Viharaya presided and hailed the Minister‘s visit as the first of a Sri lankan Minister to Birmingham.

The question of true representative provincial government, Bogollagama said, was dragging for thirty years without any serious attempt was being taken to solve it, but President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government being in office only for 28 months took the bold step of defeating the terrorists militarily and dawning a new era of installing a true representative government protecting the democratic rights of the people.

All governments for the last thirty years did lot of sacrifices to rid the province of terrorism. But this was the first time; concrete steps were taken, after defeating terrorism to make democracy and true representative government in the area installed.

The minister said few days before when he met UN Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki Moon he promised everything possible under the UN aid to uplift the political and socio economic standards of the people of the area. He said after the Supreme Court gave a verdict to split the North and East and hold separate provincial Council elections the government acted accordingly and the present condition of the province is a great achievement for democracy. With the political changes, the minister said an economic awakening is also being brought into the area by massive investments.

The Foreign minister said, the areas existing under the rule of terrorism currently , the districts of Mulaithivu, Kilinochchi, and parts of Mannar will be brought under democracy within the next few months.

He said a development committee presided over by Minister Douglas Devananda, and consisting of Minister Rishad Bathiutheen and Presidential advisor Basil Rajapaksa has been already appointed. “it is the policy of the government give back all possible rights of the people irrespective of language, religion and geographical differences,’ the Minister emphasized.

He said laws to this effect were available in the law books but never implemented. Now Tamil police officers are being appointed to serve Tamil speaking people of the North and the East.

Answering questions why the Iranian President visited Sri Lanka Minister Bogollagama said he obviously visited Sri Lanka on our President’s invitation. He said the country has had ancient historical relations with Sri Lanka and said it is in the geographical vicinity of the country. For a long period of time Sri Lanka has been using Iranian light crude for our oil and Sri Lanka now imports about 1000 million dollars worth of oil annually. Iran also has invested 950 million dollars to expand our refinery to double its present capacity and it has invested 450 million dollars for the Uma Oya development to cultivate an additional 10,000 acres.

Answering another question how the relationship is profitable to Sri Lanka on a long term basis when it is being looked at adversely in the West the Foreign Minister said no foreign country has commented adversely against Sri Lanka regarding its relationship with Iran. He said as a Non-Aligned nation both relations with the West as well as with the East is very important to Sri Lanka.

The relationship improves Sri Lanka’s international profile as an independent country and helps the country to be elected to international bodies like the Human Rights Commission with the help of both East and the West, the minister said. It provides the country with a value based international status , the minister said. He said being a neighbor the Iranian President visited not only Sri Lanka but also India and Pakistan. The Foreign Minister said even Barak Obama has said he would enter into a discussion with Iran if he is elected President of the United States.

Answering another question the Minister said he is thankful to the government of the United Kingdom for taking into custody those people who have collected funds for the LTTE using front organizations.

- Asian Tribune -

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