The move, a response to pleas from parties to provide a sense of dignity and equality in the post-Prabhakaran Sri Lanka, came ahead of an early Presidential election.

In a major confidence building measure (CBM), the Sri Lankan Government on Wednesday revoked the mandatory security clearance for civilians of the Northern Province to travel via land routes. Citizens of Jaffna peninsula, whose only link to the island nation is through the A9 highway, would be the biggest beneficiaries.

The move, a response to pleas from parties to provide a sense of dignity and equality in the post-Prabhakaran Sri Lanka, came ahead of an early Presidential election. Indications are that more such CBMs are in the pipeline.

A Cabinet meeting presided over by President Mahinda Rajapaksa — who completed four years of his six-year term in office — discussed dates for the Presidential and Parliamentary elections. A formal announcement is expected in the next few days.

The Presidential election is being billed as the mother of all political battles in the 48-year-old history of the island nation, as it could see the incumbent President and the just retired General Sarath Fonseka pitted against each other.

For several days now, influential political rivals of Mr. Rajapaksa have been openly discussing the prospect of picking the man who led the war against the LTTE as their consensus candidate in the event of a race to the President’s office.

While Mr. Rajapaksa is all geared up, the opposition parties are still in the process of consulting each other on a strategy to defeat him with or without General Fonseka.

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