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Lankan Prez plans to call for elections next year

[Zee News, Friday, 11 September 2009 12:11 No Comment]

Riding high on his victory against LTTE, Mahinda Rajapaksa says he plans to call for early Presidential Elections in Sri Lanka by the beginning of next year, nearly two years ahead of schedule.

The President said his government was ready to go a "little bit further" to resolve the Tamil question by going beyond the 13th Amendment of the Constitution which provides decentralisation and the establishment of provincial councils.

"This provision (13th amendment) was not enforced because of the war. We are even ready to go a little bit further," he told Italian newspaper Le Figaro in an interview.

When pointed out that he will able to call for elections from November onwards and asked when will they take place, he said: "As soon as possible."

Asked whether he will call for elections at the beginning of next year, which is two years ahead of the schedule, Rajapaksa said "yes”.

There was intense speculation in the media and political circles here that Rajapaksa will call for early elections to turn the polls as a referendum on his victory against the LTTE, which held one-third of the country’s land under its control when he took over as President in 2005.

Rajapaksa said his top priority post-war is to let the displaced people to go back to their villages, especially in the north and that by the middle of this month 50,000 families will be resettled in their towns and villages.

Once the displaced people return and start cultivating their land, Sri Lanka will need to develop and the country is calling upon foreign investors, he said.

"We have to permit the displaced people to go back to their villages, especially in the North. We first need to finish the mine clearance for people to be able to go back home and cultivate their land. This is the absolute priority. Then, we need to develop the country and we are calling upon foreign investors to do so," Rajapaksa said.

The President said Sri Lanka wants the West to help it rebuild after the end of the LTTE.

Asked about criticism in the international media about the conviction of Tamil journalist JS Tissainayagam, he said, "The judge gave the verdict in all independence. I can’t interfere in court orders. There are still possibilities of appeal before the Appeal Court of the Supreme Court."

[Full Coverage]

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