Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka's East no longer war zone: local official

News and Press Release
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COLOMBO, Nov 01, 2008 (Xinhua via COMTEX News Network) -- The Chief Minister of Sri Lanka's Eastern Province said that his province has become a no war zone for the first time since the island's ethnic separatist campaign began.

Sivanesaturai Chandrakanthan, the Eastern Province Chief Minister addressing a public gathering in Colombo on Saturday said that the political transformation in the province has seen that the war ended in the province.

Chandrakanthan, a former militant, now is the deputy leader of the Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Puligal (TMVP, Tamil People's Liberation Tigers) political party which is a breakaway from Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebels.

Chandrakanthan said that he would at all times work in close cooperation with the government of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse to bring development to the province battered by years of armed fighting between government troops and the rebels.

The government cleared the entire Eastern Province from the rebels' control in 2007 and have held two democratic elections to elect people's representatives to run the province since then.

This year's March saw the local elections in the province followed by the election for the Eastern Provincial Council in May.

Both elections were won by Chandrakanthan's TMVP which functions as an ally of the Rajapakse's ruling United People's Freedom Alliance government.