Colombo: Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has vowed to conduct the long overdue provincial elections in its war-torn north in September as he toured the former LTTE strongholds, promising to restore everything destroyed in the region during the three-decade long war.
"We are in the process of restoring everything that was destroyed during the past 30 years; You all need protect them," Rajapaksa said yesterday, speaking in Tamil at an event in Kilinochchi, the former LTTE administrative capital.
He also urged Lankan Tamils to recognise the alleged negative impact caused by the Tamil diaspora.
Rajapaksa opened a 153 km-long section of a highway linking the capital Colombo and the north. This section of the A9 highway suffered from the LTTE campaign and remained inaccessible for public transport throughout the conflict.
He also opened a domestic air strip at Iranamadu, located on a former LTTE airstrip.
The President also laid the foundation to build homes in the Nanthikandal where the final battle between the LTTE and government troops took place.
Meanwhile, minister of mass media and information Kekeliya Rambukwella told yesterday that even if the Parliament was unable to reach a consensus before the legally required date to call for nominations, the long overdue Northern Provincial Council polls would be held before the end of September, a local newspaper reported.
Parliament will also move an urgent bill next week abolish the power of Provincial Councils to merge, as provided for in the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, he added. The the proposed Bill had been endorsed by the Cabinet of Ministers.
The government, he noted, would move for the establishment of a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) to discuss the proposed amendments to the 13th Amendment, but regardless of a consensus being reached by the PSC, the Northern Provincial Council Election (NPCE) would be held before the end of September.
"We will meet the Speaker on Tuesday and request that a PSC be appointed to discuss all issues pertaining to the 13th Amendment including land and police powers, he said.
The Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution of Sri Lanka is amendment which created Provincial Councils in the island nation. This also made Sinhala and Tamil as the official language of the country and English as link language.
The amendment followed the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord was signed between then Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi and then Lankan President JR Jayewardene in 1987, which stated that devolution powers to the provinces.