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Updated: November 21, 2010 23:56 IST

I have a political solution in mind: President Rajapaksa

N. Ram
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Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa arrives for his swearing-in-ceremony in Colombo, on Friday. “The past is past; you don’t dig into the wounds. We must think positively, not negatively,” said the President.
AP Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa arrives for his swearing-in-ceremony in Colombo, on Friday. “The past is past; you don’t dig into the wounds. We must think positively, not negatively,” said the President.

Confirming that he had a political solution to the Tamil question in mind and that discussions with political parties and the people would go ahead, President Mahinda Rajapaksa told The Hindu: “[On devolution] “we must know the minds of the people… What we want is reconfirmation of what they want… The solution that I have in mind might not be good enough for them; they might not accept it. Not only the political parties, the people must accept it… We want to appoint a committee, from both sides, and discuss all these.” He indicated that elections to the Northern Provincial Council would take place in 2011.

In a wide-ranging interview given to me at ‘Temple Trees' in Colombo, Sri Lanka's powerful President, who began his second term on November 19, answered questions about the prospects of finding a political solution to the Tamil question, the resettlement of all the displaced Tamils in the North, the role of Opposition parties, his initiative for a trilingual Sri Lanka, the jailing and conviction of the former Army Commander, General Sarath Fonseka, and some other current political issues. He characterised bilateral relations with India as “excellent, after the war, and before the war ended.”

Mr. Rajapaksa noted that the principal achievement of his first term as President was the elimination of terrorism and delivery of peace to the people. For the second term, he emphasised that his aim was to “develop the country. After that, the priorities are the people whom we have to win over — the hearts and minds of the people. Now Sri Lanka is one country; it's not divided. So what we want is to see that the whole nation gets all the benefits, not only one area, not only one community. To develop the economy so that all the people benefit.”

Expressing satisfaction over the process of resettling the 300,000 Tamils displaced by the war, he noted that of the 17,000 or 18,000 who had not yet returned to their areas, at least 10,000 were from areas that had to be de-mined. He expected that by December 2010, the government would be able to “send back everyone other than the people who wish to stay there [in the camps].”

Asked about the removal, through a constitutional amendment, of the two-term bar on holding presidential office, a move which has been criticised, he provided an interesting answer: he had observed that during the second year of the second term, leaders in various countries, including Sri Lanka, became “lame ducks”; he wasn't going “to walk into that trap” and wanted to be “free from that [constraint].”

What was his message to the Sri Lankan people and to the international community at the start of his second presidential term? “The message to my people,” President Rajapaksa answered, “is that I am concentrating on development work. I want to make Sri Lanka a hub for the development of knowledge, energy, commerce, naval transportation, and aviation. To achieve that, our people must stay together…To the international community, my message is they must understand our position. We defeated terrorists, not freedom fighters. The whole world is facing this problem. So they must realise what we have achieved and help to develop the country, develop the North-East. They must help us not to widen the gap between the communities but to bring them closer. The past is past; you don't dig into the wounds. We must think positively, not negatively.”

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With 2/3 majority and popularity Mr.Rajabakse is the last hope for Sri Lanka to devolve meaningfully the power to Tamils. Failure would result in India's intervention and potentially partition.

from:  Kanesan
Posted on: Nov 23, 2010 at 18:04 IST

Firstly srilanka has to be tried for the war crimes. Rajapakshe and his brothers have to be punished for war crimes for killing 40,000 civilians and surrendered LTTE cadres. Then Srilanka has to give a political solution of giving self determination to the Tamils. Tamils should rule themselves. Only if the above happens Srilanka can be a peaceful country.

from:  Rajkumar Palaniswamy
Posted on: Nov 23, 2010 at 12:04 IST

Well that political solution is to colonialise the Eelam Tamil homeland with sinhalas and subsequently dissolve the tamil identity. Also this big man started destroying the historical evidences to wipe off any traces of eelam Tamils. Why is he shying away from the war crime probe from UN ? Its infact more than just war crime. Its the genocide of eelam tamils that happened in sri lanka. Once cannot escape from the justice all the time. Soon he will have to face the truth like how it happened in sudan. Genocide cannot be hidden. Get ready for it Mr Rajapakse !!

from:  senthil
Posted on: Nov 23, 2010 at 11:57 IST

Certainly the President’s challenge in the second term will be to arrive at a political solution to the ethnic issues with the minority Tamils in the north and eastern parts of the country.

At this time Rajapakse government has to take all efforts aiming a peaceful restoration of democracy and to offer an economic package to refugees returning to native places for commencement of farming, trade, business and industrial activities for generation of employment opportunities in the regions where they are being resettled. They should be given the right support to live with pride while preserving their own esteemed culture. Sri Lankan government would have learned to fight against militia over a period of three decades’ experience. The military and civic bodies would not have certainly experienced rehabilitation of this magnitude which is equally challenging like waging war against rebels in difficult topography. The task of the government can be fine tuned through professional management of handling refuges and their rehabilitation.

Sri Lanka had termed the U.N. panel as interference in its internal affairs. Colombo has been trying to impress the world that the eight-member Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) appointed by President Rajapaksa would cover all aspects of the conflict and political reconciliation to the ethnic conflict. He had informed Basn-Ki-Moon, U.N Secretay General (UNSG) then that the LLRC had proved that it was ready to reach out to the people affected by the conflict by holding sittings in the war torn areas; it was fully accessible, and was ready to give a hearing to anyone or any organisation that had information of value to the process of reconciliation and restorative justice in Sri Lanka.

It was ironical that two months’ back the Sri Lankan permanent Representative in United Nations Dr. Palitha Kohona had posted in the on-line edition of “Daily Mirror” of Colombo stating that the U.N Panel will set a precedent as it is not authorized. He had even quoted that an earlier move by U.N in the last year was rejected by Sri Lanka. How will U.N handle this sort of obdurate attitude, especially when it comes from responsible official representing the island nation in U.N head quarters?

My contention is that if the issue of indifference to United Nations High Commissioner of Human Rights Ms.Navaneetham Pillay’s request for investigations are not resolved or not permitted her to visit Sri Lanka, will it not affect as a disgrace for Sri Lanka, for being non-transparent? Why a chance is given to anyone to suspect the Sri Lankan regime if there is of a concerted positive approach to the rehabilitation programme under the current changed scenario? It will be fine, if a responsible Official from the Sri Lankan High-Commission reading this come forward and brief on this matter. Please do the needful.

It seems that Ban Ki Moon, UNSG had already explained to the President that the committee appointed by him relating to Sri Lanka was in no way empowered to investigate charges against Sri Lanka, but was solely to advise him on matters relating to Sri Lanka. It was published in Sri Lanka news papers that U.N Panel will just invite grievances from victims and will not visit any places in the island nation.

Charles Haviland of BBC News, Colombo had reported on the plight of refugees who had lost their loved ones after surrendering to the Sri Lankan army. Many from the northern Sri Lanka could meeting the war inquiry panel and explain on missing of people who had served with the Tamil Tigers.

The defence ministry had immediately blocked the BBC to cover proceedings of the panel at the headquarters of LTTE in Kilinochchi. The promising trend is that even Sri Lanka’s domestic journalist too questioned the defence ministry officials on the issue of missing surrendered LTTE men. The unfortunate thing was that LTTE had many a number of people who were forcibly inducted into its cadre.

Rajapakse regime had reiterated that the LRCC panel will investigate into all areas especially during the final phase of the war that annihilated the Tamil Tigers and also on the issue of LTTE cadre surrendering. The critical focus is to be into the alleged missing of surrendered people. If they are not missing, they have to be found out in any detention camps and it is the duty of his government.

It will be ideal for Sri Lanka and its citizens to sustain true democratic rights and freedom to one and all irrespective of race, religion or language they speak. The only challenge will be very clear, that there will be a multi-racial, multi-lingual society while the majority Sinhala-speaking people have to accept Tamils and Muslims also as fellow citizens with equal rights. Correspondingly the ethnic groups should get along with the majority Sinhala speaking communities and facilitate national integration. The ethnic community may be a majority in certain provinces and this should not be misused to disintegrate the nation and its common interests.

Being a person with keen sense of news and had the opportunity to interact with many Sri Lankans belonging to all origins and communities in India and while visiting overseas, I strongly feel that island nation’s majority people are silently weeping for all carnages which really seeded the feeling of abhorrence at the bottom of their minds. Of course, they can relinquish malevolence ideas over a period of time provided there are sincere efforts to put forth Confidence Building Measures (CBM) from all quarters.

from:  Madan Menon Thottasseri
Posted on: Nov 23, 2010 at 09:40 IST

all sinhala leaders had solutions for tamil problem in side their mind which is not true over 40 years

from:  M Afzal
Posted on: Nov 23, 2010 at 09:02 IST

Mr. Rajapaksa has proven once again that he hasn't moved anything to the reality when it comes to devolution and Political solution to Tamils. For last two years, he is keep telling the same story that he has a political solution in his mind. But there are no actions just words & promises from him same deceiving as his predecessors.

from:  A.Raja
Posted on: Nov 22, 2010 at 09:42 IST

koodi vazndal kodi nanmai.a united sri lanka with democracy is good for all.

from:  v narayanan
Posted on: Nov 22, 2010 at 09:24 IST

first of all we wish all success of his plan in order to bring peace and opportunities to north and east people who really suffered may years due to terrorist they all can live and travel any where in the country without any harassment of discrimination.they are sending theirs childern to school and colleges after many years.

this president had proof he can do it and let him to proof that he can deliver reasonable political solution to north and east people without dividing the nation and keep all people need time people can not expect miracle to happen such short period of need more funding and new project to accommodate new generation and new infrastructure to attraction the investors.all those works needs more funds and resources.

It is the responsibility of the Tamil and Muslim political leaders to help president,they can give advice and ideas for new way of thinking and help people to enter in to developments they all must shares any benefit like others.they all our bothers and sisters,they all our childern.real meaning of developments,needs to have such opportunities to all the people irrespective of their religion, language or they from north/south.president needs understanding and help from the world for this.having matured, educated well respect prime minister in India make this more meaningful.all others political leaders in India must help without wasting time to see thinks are getting better for people in the north and east.

from:  Francis liyanage
Posted on: Nov 22, 2010 at 02:30 IST

for a number of years tamil people are not treated as equals with sihalese. they treated as second class citizens. hope president will keep up his promises to meet the aspirations of tamil people,hope indian govt must give some kind for tamils to get their share

from:  l.s.mohandoss
Posted on: Nov 22, 2010 at 01:53 IST
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