Page 2 of 3Media Release
FM tells diplomats that President Rajapaksa has received popular mandate to defeat terrorism and restore democracy in the North
The results of last week’s Provincial Council elections in Sabaragamuwa and the North Central Province prove the massive popular support for the government’s current humanitarian endeavour to liberate the people of the North who are languishing under the jackboot of LTTE terrorism; the people have spoken out clearly; their message is unambiguous. They want the government under the leadership of President Rajapaksa to flush out the terrorists from their last remaining jungle hideouts in the Wanni, and bring freedom and democracy to the people in the North.
Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama made these remarks when he addressed the diplomatic corps today (28 August 2008) at the Foreign Ministry, as part of his regular interaction with the diplomatic community. He said that free and fair elections constitute a vital ingredient of a functioning and vibrant democracy. The elections to the two Provincial Councils, monitored by independent election observers, were certified by them as free and fair. The high voter turnout of over 65% and the fact that the ruling United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) won all 27 electorates in the 4 districts of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa in the NCP and Kegalle and Ratnapura in Sabaragamuwa, garnering more than 50% of the votes cast in every one of them, reinforced the public endorsement of President Rajapaksa’s policies. The Minister noted that if the elections had been held under the first past the post system, the UPFA would have made a clean sweep of all 77 seats in the two Councils.
Referring to the ongoing operations in the North, the Minister said that the government encourages civilians to move out from the conflict zone to areas under government control, which would enable it to provide them food, water, shelter and other essential services.
Defence Secretary, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and Commissioner General of Essential Services, S.B. Divaratne, who were associated with the Minister at the briefing, also addressed the diplomatic corps. Speaking on the occasion, the Defence Secretary announced that the government is making the necessary facilities in Vavuniya, which will be the main centre to receive civilians moving out of the conflict zone. He also stated that the present military operations in the North are necessarily slow but steady, in keeping with the “zero civilian casualty policy” of the military, which had been pursued with a high degree of success in the Eastern Province clearing operations.
The Commissioner General of Essential Services, Mr. Divaratne gave a categorical assurance that there was absolutely no shortage of food, medicine and other essential needs of the people in the uncleared areas. He emphasized that it was the government that had been sending these supplies on an uninterrupted basis through the Government Agents of the relevant districts, notwithstanding the fact that it was aware that the LTTE was seizing substantial quantities of the goods for their own use. Nevertheless, the government will continue to send essential supplies to the uncleared areas, so that civilians who are caught up in the conflict will not be deprived of their basic needs.
Foreign Minister Bogollagama, Defence Secretary, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and the Commissioner General of Essential Services, S.B. Divaratne also addressed the media following the briefing for the diplomats. Senior officials of the Foreign Ministry were present on the occasion.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
28 August 2008