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Rajapaksa kicks-off election campaign in Tamil dominated north – Express India

[MISC, Sunday, 10 January 2010 11:58 No Comment]

Kicking-off his presidential campaign in war-ravaged northern Sri Lanka where opposition candidate Sarath Fonseka enjoys an edge, President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Sunday assured the predominantly Tamils there that they could now live in peace as the LTTE was a thing of past.

The people of Jaffna accorded a rousing welcome to Rajapaksa in Jaffna, when the incumbent President made his first visit to the region after the defeat of the Tamil Tigers, an official statement said.

Rajapaksa, who is seeking a second term and pitted against the common opposition candidate Fonseka in the January 26 polls, told the people of Vavuniya and Mannar during his visit that they had suffered enough for the last three decades and there would be no repeat of such violent incidents as the LTTE war was a thing of the past and would never happen again, the Sunday Times Reported.

The President during his rally organised at the Mannar Urban Council Grounds in North-western Sri Lanka said development which had virtually come to a halt in the last 30 years in the region had now begun in right earnest.

In a major boost to the Presidential campaign of former army general Fonseka, the dominant Tamil party, TNA on January 6 had announced support in favour of him.

Tamil National Alliance once considered close to LTTE announced support in favour of the former army chief saying he understood the need for an acceptable solution on the Tamil issue better than President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

In the past the people of the North and the East had no liberty to visit temples, churches and mosques, he said adding however, they are now enjoying freedom and can move about devoid of fear and suspicion.

During an election campaign, Rajapaksa told residents of the districts of Vavuniya and Mannar that several measures would be taken to ease their hardships.

These included a further easing of restrictions on fishing and travel and greater access to the church in Madhu, the holiest local shrine for Roman Catholics in Sri Lanka.

The President said, those who had suffered as a result of three decades of war could now live in peace, knowing the LTTE war was a thing of the past and would never happen again, the Sunday Times Reported.

He then visited the famous Nallur Kandasamy temple in Jaffna and participated in religious ceremonies. The President then addressed the three services and the police and said the people of this country were proud of them.

"I will not allow any one to betray the hard earned war victory and will never allow any person to give life to terrorism," he said.

On Saturday, Rajapaksa also visited the Menik farm in Vavuniya, and presided at a ceremony that saw the release of over 700 detained LTTE suspects.

Fonseka on January 2 took his campaign to Jaffna, once the heartland of his erstwhile battle adversaries the Tamil Tigers.

The Sri Lankan government yesterday released over 745 former Tamil Tiger guerrillas, including child soldiers, in Vavuniya district where they have been housed after the end of a decades old civil war.

The LTTE suspects had been held in rehabilitation centres in the Poonthottam camp in Vavuniya, the Vavuniya Technical College, Gamini Maha Vidyalaya, and 14 other centres.

Fifteen of the suspects were personally released by President Rajapaksa, media report said.

The President vowed to maintain an environment in which all citizens would equally enjoy their rights and lead a "dignified" life.

 

Rajapaksa told the gathering that the government had launched many projects to develop the infrastructure in the Mannar District.

Rajapaksa kicks-off election campaign in Tamil dominated north – Express India

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