Rajapaksa claims easy victory in general elections

Last Updated: Monday, March 1, 2010 - 15:52

Colombo: President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Monday
claimed that his coalition will form a "stable government"
after the April 8 Sri Lankan parliamentary polls, in which an
opposition party has fielded ex-army chief Sarath Fonseka.

Addressing his party candidates, Rajapaksa reminded
them that the people had kept faith with the United People
Freedom Alliance on a continued basis since 1994.
"We never subjugated the path of democracy. We did not
believe in alternative routes and did not mislead the people
by holding bogus referendums. This is why the people trusted
us and continues to trust us. You should ensuere its
continuity," the state-owned Daily News quoted him as saying.

"In line with people`s expectations, the UPFA will
form a stable government after the Parliamentary elections,"
Rajapaksa said.

Campaigning has already begun for the crucial polls,
which are being held more than two months after the January 26
Presidential election in which incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa
defeated Fonseka, who was the candidate of the joint
opposition.

Fonseka on February 26 filed nomination papers as a
candidate of a new opposition alliance for the April 8
Parliamentary poll, which is set to witness a three-cornered
fight also involving the ruling UPFA and former premier Ranil
Wickremesinghe`s UNF.

He made these observations at the President`s House
in North Central Anuradhapura town after the candidates of the
coalition took a pledge before Rajapaksa to commit themselves
to a free and fair election.
"Following religious observances of all faiths held
in Anuradhapura, all the UPFA candidates, governors and chief
ministers of all provinces gathered at the President`s House
there and gave this pledge together with President Mahinda
Rajapaksa," the Presidential secretariat said.

The religious observances followed the ceremony at
President`s House signalling the UPFA campaign launch for the
general elections, where Prime Minister Ratnasiri
Wickramanayaka and all UPFA candidates participated, it said.

The UPFA had always kept faith and had taken steps
to uphold the people?s franchise, he said.

The UPFA, the President said, is a combination of
many political parties and derived strength from its
diversity.

The President said the UPFA on this occasion was
contesting all electorates from Dondra head to Point Pedro.

The President however cautioned the candidates not
to give false promises or get embroiled in bitter battles in
search for preferential votes to get elected, the newspaper
said.

"Tell the truth. You can take a leaf out of the
Mahinda Chinthana (development programme) in this regard," he
added.

The President while emphasising that the people`s
free will should prevail, cautioned that any breach of
discipline would be dealt with severely by the party General
Secretary.

Rajapaksa called on the candidates not to
force their will on the people, but instead give due respect
to the public opinion and take examples from that.

He said the elected candidates should represent the
public opinion and should give voice to it within Parliament.

President Rajapaksa also cautioned the candidates
not to seek extra comforts or elevate themselves to a higher
pedestal at the expense of public vote, the newspaper said.

Nominations closed late last month and candidates
have now commenced their campaigning.

There are 7358 candidates in the fray from 24
Political parties and 310 Independent groups who are vying
for 196 seats in the Seventh Parliament.

Of the total 225 seats in the Unicameral Sri
Lankan Parliament, 29 seats fall under National list (of
parties) quota.

As many as 43 nominations of 37 Independent groups and
a political party for several districts were rejected by the
Election Commission.

In comparison to the last General Election, a high
number of Independent groups are in the field this time
around.

PTI



First Published: Monday, March 1, 2010 - 15:52

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