Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka: Tsunami Relief Council, a stepping stone to usher permanent peace - President

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President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga yesterday reiterated that she was ready to face all sorts of challenges in the process of implementing the Tsunami Relief Council, as she believes it as a stepping stone to usher permanent peace.

Addressing a public meeting of Thuruvila, Anuradhapura after commissioning the Rs. 4 billion water treatment plant, President Kumaratunga said the government could sort out the shortcomings in the Post-Tsunami Operational Management Structure very easily as pointed out by the Supreme Court.

The President said two factors out of the three, the Supreme Court pointed out is already there in the Post-Tsunami Operational Management Structure and the other factor can be easily adjusted.

"There may be challenges like this in the future too. I am ready to face all sorts of challenges in implementing the Post-Tsunami Operational Management Structure," the President added.

President Kumaratunga also said that people should not worry that the government may fall as hoped by certain political parties and media institutes led by the UNP.

"You should not fear about falling of the Government. Our Government is strong as long as the people's power and confidence are placed with us," the President said.

"It is the responsibility of the Government to fulfil the requirements of the day considering the future of our country. We are facing all these challenges as we believe that this is a stepping stone for us to enter into the path of peace to solve the ethnic problem and usher permanent peace in the country," President Kumaratunga added.

President Kumaratunga said that it was the responsibility of the Government to fulfil the requirements of the people.

"We are committed to fulfil the expectations of the people despite a major partner of the UPFA leaving the government," she said.

President Kumaratunga also appealed to the public not to be misled by media reports on the collapse of the government and also about the P-TOMS as three fourth of the media institutes of the country are controlled by UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe.

"Those media institutes are working on the agenda of making Ranil Wickremesinghe's dream of becoming President, a reality," President Kumaratunga added.

She pointed out that one newspaper controlled by UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe's uncle has published a diabolical lie about the Supreme Court decision on the P-TOMS.

"I am at a loss to understand whether they were completely ignorant to understand what the Supreme Court has pointed out," the President said.

She dismissed all rumours about a general election to be held this year and also about the Presidential election, as propagated by those pro-UNP media institutes.

"There is no need to have a general election as this government has a further five year term to continue. No one has the power except me to dissolve the Parliament prior to that," President Kumaratunga added.

She said she has no idea to do that prior to the completion of its term.

She also said that Presidential Election will also be held 18 months later, but not as expected by UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe.

"There is no election due within this year. The only election due is the Local Government election. That is also after another eight months", the President added.

She said the Government was ready to implement all the development projects that were delayed due to the tsunami catastrophe, the country had to face last year, commencing from the next month.

"We have the necessary funds and also the strength to fulfil the expectations of the people", she added.

President Kumaratunga prior to addressing the meeting commissioned a water treatment plant costing nearly Rs. 4 billion to provide drinking water for nearly 100,000 people in the Anuradhapura and urban areas.

Urban Development and Water Supply Minister Dinesh Gunawardana, Plantation Industries Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, Chief Minister of North Central Provincial Council Berty Premalal Dissanayaka, Women's Empowerment and Social Welfare Deputy Minister S.M. Chandrasena and several other Ministers, Deputy Ministers and Provincial Ministers were present.