Lankan Prez announces package for North ahead of polls
Last Updated: Tuesday, January 12, 2010, 14:02
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.


First Published: Tuesday, January 12, 2010, 14:02

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