New plan for Tamils soon: Rajapaksa

Triumphant Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Thursday declared that emergency provisions in the country would be scrapped but not hastily, saying he would soon unveil a political plan for the estranged Tamils.

Last Updated: Jan 28, 2010, 15:20 PM IST

Colombo: Triumphant Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Thursday declared that emergency provisions in the country would be scrapped but not hastily, saying he would soon unveil a political plan for the estranged Tamils.
A day after his thumping victory in the Presidential Elections, 64-year-old Rajapaksa said he would come out with his plans after a dialogue with Tamil leaders.

He said he would hold his dialogue with the Tamil leaders after the Parliamentary Elections and to queries that the Tamils had not voted for him, Rajapaksa said it was good that people who had been deprived of voting for years had done so.

"I will come out with my solution. It is in my manifesto, so it is planned, the way I am going to do it and I will be doing it," the President said.

Elaborating on his promised devolution Package for the Tamils, the Lankan President said: "It will be a political solution based on a Sri Lankan model."

Asked if the Indian Government would back his Tamil package, Rajapaksa said that the New Delhi had always helped and backed the island nation and its Constitution.

"What has been introduced as 13th amendment is an Indian proposal. So it is there in the Constitution. Now people think they should get more. We must remember that any solution given to the Tamils must be endorsed by the majority, otherwise it won`t work," Rajapaksa said.

"India has been very helpful and they know this is an internal matter. We know that we can depend on them," Sri Lankan President said in interviews to Indian TV channels.

Rajapaksa said his dramatic victory was a perfect response to those who had criticised his handling of the war against the Tamils, an apparent swipe at Western nations who had raised issues of abuses and war crimes.

"The overwhelming mandate given in this election has given an answer to these critics.”

"The people of Sri Lanka, democratically and very cleverly, have shown that they are now free of threats, free of fear, free of terrorism -- and they have shown they support the measures which have freed them," the presidential statement said.

The EU, UK and US have backed calls for an investigation into possible war-crimes in the final stages of the fighting against the Tamil Tigers.

On emergency measures brought into force in the country during the height of its forces combat with the Tamil Tigers, the Lankan President said: "Emergency measures taken to defend the country and people against terrorism will be dismantled, not hastily but in due course, and in keeping with the proper security considerations."

Reaching out to his opponents, Rajapaksa said his victory was a vote for an end to division and an end to terrorism for a new beginning in the war-ravaged country.

He said his ally-turned-opponent Sarath Fonseka need not have any fears and will have no problems. "The people of Sri Lanka have spoken and they have voted for an end to division, an end to terrorism, and for a new beginning of peace and prosperity," the statement said.

"My call at this moment of electoral victory is for all Sri Lankans to set aside their differences, and come together to help build the nation on the firm foundation of the peace achieved," Rajapaksa`s statement said which came amid fears expressed by the unsuccessful presidential candidate Sarath Fonseka of his being arrested.

"What is his problem? He can always get in touch with me on matters related to his security. After all he was my former Army chief," Rajapaksa told reporters yesterday when asked about Fonseka apprehensions.

Fonseka last night left the hotel in which he spent virtually the whole day yesterday and was escorted by Army to his residence.

The statement from the presidential secretariat said the polls were the first free and fair election in which the entire country could participate in nearly three decades, and also the first such election since the defeat of terrorism in Sri Lanka in May last year.

"The policies of government in the years ahead, will lead to Sri Lanka embracing prosperity," the statement added. "For those in the north and east of our country, including many who have been displaced, President acknowledges the hardships they have experienced," it said, adding that Rajapaksa was determined to ensure that they are supported to rebuild their lives.