Lankan Prez announces package for North ahead of polls

Lankan Prez Rajapaksa has unveiled a USD 4bn reconstruction package for the war-ravaged North to woo Tamil voters.

Colombo: Sri Lanka President Mahinda
Rajapaksa today unveiled a USD 4 billion reconstruction
package for the war-ravaged North to woo Tamil voters ahead of
the election in which the minority community could play a
decisive role.

Seeking a second term, Rajapaksa said "the end of the war
does not mean the end of the conflict" and asserted, "we need
to politically address the needs of the Tamils".

His comments come as Tamils have long demanded genuine
devolution of power and regional autonomy. Tamils constitute
about 13 per cent of Sri Lanka`s population of 20 million.

Rajapaksa, who was speaking to foreign correspondents at
at a breakfast meeting at his residence, charged his opponents
of carrying out a "mud-slinging" campaign against him.

The Tamil voters could prove to be decisive in the
January 26 election as both Rajapaksa and his main opponent
former top general Sarath Fonseka are Sinhalese.

To woo the voters in the North, Rajapaksa vowed to
rebuild the war-ravaged region with a whopping USD 4 billion
dollar package.

"We will be spending 4 billion dollars for rebuilding the
Northern Sri Lanka and that will include roads, electricity,
irrigation projects and Railway lines," he said.

Besides India and China, World Bank and Asian Development
Bank will provide funds for the rebuilding efforts that will
continue for the next few years as well.