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Rajapaksa should reach out to Tamils after election: Blake

[Hindu, Friday, 9 April 2010 16:55 No Comment]

Robert Blake, Assistant Secretary of State and former Ambassador to Sri Lanka, on Thursday said, “I think it is important for the administration of President Rajapaksa to reach out to the Tamils… It is important that they feel that they are going to be able to live a future of hope and of opportunity, that the internally displaced people that are now in camps… be allowed to go back to their homes.” Mr. Blake added that there were approximately 100,000 IDPs.

In an interview that touched upon the context of post-war reconciliation Mr. Blake said that what was needed besides the resettlement of IDPs was a “greater respect for human rights and… some accountability for some of the past violations.”

On the election outcome per se Mr. Blake noted that “the President has always said that he would like to get a two-thirds majority in the parliament that would then allow him to amend the Sri Lankan constitution.” In this context Mr. Blake noted President Rajapaksa’s commitment to implementing the thirteenth amendment, which would provide for devolution of power to the provinces, including to the Northern Province.

Regarding election results Mr. Blake said, “It appears that he will indeed… enjoy a majority. I think it is too early to say whether he is going to get that two-thirds majority. But it is likely that he is going to benefit from some crossovers as well. So it is possible that he could get to the two-thirds level.”

Responding to a question on nepotism, particularly on President Rajapaksa’s family members considering seats in Parliament, Mr. Blake said, “I think there is a long tradition of that kind of ‘family business’… The Bandaranaikes, before the Rajapaksas, and several other families, have had that kind of thing. So I don’t think that’s unusual in the Sri Lankan context.” He added that what was important was that there were free and fair elections and that the Sri Lankan people perceive that there was a fair process.

[Full Coverage]

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