Thursday, November 26, 2009

Sri Lankans to go to polls by January

By Shamim Adam and Anusha Ondaatjie - Sri Lanka’s presidential election is likely to be held in the middle or end of January with a final date to be announced in about a week’s time, Deputy Finance Minister Sarath Amunugama said today.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa three days ago called an election for 2010, two years before his mandate expires, seeking to capitalize on the defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam rebels in May.

“There is absolutely no doubt that the president is going to win and get reelected,” Amunugama said in an interview in Singapore. “We are targeting a 70 percent vote for him.”

Rajapaksa will face former military chief Sarath Fonseka in the ballot. Fonseka, who led the army in the last years of the war, will be the candidate of two opposition parties.

The election will allow voters to go to the polls in the northern region formerly controlled by the LTTE, Rajapaksa said this week. He called on Sri Lankans to help rebuild the island nation after the government “succeeded in liberating the motherland from terrorism.”

The opposition Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna, or People’s Liberation Front, and the United National Party, have said they agreed on fielding a common opposition candidate.

Overseas Aid

Parliamentary elections are scheduled to be held before April. The government on Nov. 3 presented spending estimates for the first four months of 2010 in lieu of a full budget, ahead of the parliamentary vote.

Amunugama said the government will rely on its own funds and overseas aid to rebuild areas in the island’s north and east liberated from the LTTE.

All Sri Lankan ethnic Tamil civilians held in camps since the end of the civil war are free to return to their homes, except for about 10,000 held for crimes, he said earlier in a speech in Singapore

The government says its resettlement program has allowed more than half of the 280,000 displaced civilians to go home and aims to have the remaining 137,000 returned to their towns and villages by the end of January.

Rajapaksa’s administration must ensure there are no arbitrary detentions once the civilians are allowed to leave the camps, Human Rights Watch said in an e-mailed statement yesterday.

© Bloomberg

Bookmark and Share

No comments:

Post a Comment

© 2009 - 2014 Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka

  © Blogger template 'Fly Away' by 2008

Back to TOP