In his new year message, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa said his government’s strategy of development in the new decade would be to make the nation the South Asian hub of ocean and air traffic and communications in a knowledge-based society.

“We shall build on the foundations already laid in the construction of harbours, airports, extensive road networks and the marked increase in IT literacy in Sri Lanka.”

Meanwhile, the opposition charged that the campaign managers of Mr. Rajapaksa were misusing government machinery and funds for his election purposes.

Denying the charges, the managers demanded the opposition to produce proof. “We greet the New Year with commensurate pride and satisfaction at our achievements in the past year when, together as a nation, we overcame the deadly challenge of terrorism, bringing to an end 27 years of mindless brutality, debilitating self-doubt, and unforeseen division among our people,” he said in his message.

Mr. Rajapaksa further said he looked forward with a commitment to heal the wounds of the past and also resist the pressures from abroad that stand in the way in this great task as his government stood firm against uninvited interference in efforts to defeat terrorism.

“With the cost and pain of conflict behind us, my government will now be even more focused on diverting our energies to development; continuing the many massive projects we launched in the midst of the fight against terror, and launching new ventures to bring to our country the progress it has been denied from the time of independence.”

The President said his government would remain committed to a strengthened and sustained friendship with the countries that supported Sri Lanka in full measure to defeat terrorism and bring peace and foster and encourage good relations with those who recognise and respect our sovereignty and encourage us in ways to move on the path to peace and prosperity.

Separately, a former Prime Minister and the United National Party (UNP) leader, Ranil Wickremesinghe, who is backing the candidature of the commander turned politician retired General Fonseka has been quoted in the local media as saying he had successful talks with the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) in his effort to secure its support for the General. At the same time, he has added that the TNA would, however, take time to announce its stand on the presidential election.

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