The coming polls will be more than a Presidential election: Ranil
Addressing the special UNP convention at the Nawaloka grounds in Welisara yesterday, Opposition UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe said he was not a leader who talks in Tamil with the help of a prompter and sheds crocodile tears for the Tamil people.
|Ranil Wickremesinghe at the convention
He said that the coming election was more than a presidential election.
It is a referendum for the people to decide whether they want to maintain this ‘Royal family’ or chase them way. You have to decide whether your family is more important or the ‘Royal family’ is more important, he said.
Today Parliament has been devalued, the judiciary has been devalued, and ministers have been intimidated while drug dealers are being worshipped. This we have to change, Mr. Wickremesinghe said.
“We have not taken Gen. Fonseka to keep him as a puppet after abolishing the executive presidency. He is a clever officer and he must be used for the good of the country. People in Colombo did not go to war but it was the young men and women in the villages who went to fight for the country, so one family cannot claim the fruits of victory in this war,” he said.
Our caretaker government will take steps to give the people of this country the assets recovered from the LTTE. I understand there are over 19 ships and over 2000 bank accounts being maintained, but the Government says there are only three ships and 19 accounts.
This is false information. I like to ask how many ships and accounts the LTTE had. I challenge the President to table the details in Parliament. We will use the LTTE funds to reduce the VAT and give benefits to the people, Mr. Wickremesinghe said.
Among the richest people of Asia are Mahinda Rajapaksa, Basil, Gotabhaya, Chamal, Shashendra and K.P, he said.
Govt. has turned the war victory into a political one: Gen. Fonseka
The Common Opposition candidate Gen. (retd.) Fonseka who also addressed the convention said this was the largest crowd he had ever addressed.
We expected the Government to move quickly after the end of the war to work for the welfare of the soldiers and IDPs but within weeks the Government turned the war victory into a political victory, he said.
“I could have remained as the Chief of Defence Staff for two more years and enjoyed myself but I left all that because I want to serve the country.
|Gen. Sarath Fonseka
addressing the gathering
This war is a victory for the people. Some people are trying to take the credit for it themselves. I have always kept to my promises so I will keep the promise to abolish the executive presidency as well,” he said.
We have liberated the people of the north and east and unlike in the last Presidential election, this time they have the freedom to vote freely, Gen. Fonseka said.
You will remember that the President promised to abolish the executive presidency but that pledge was not fulfilled. I did not come to politics to build up my family or become the richest family in Asia. You will know in the future who are the people robbing the country, he said.
“I will increase salaries of members of the armed forces and secure the future of their children and other family members. There are those within the armed forces who are asking if we won the war for the country or for one family. They are disillusioned because of the attitude of the political leaders,” he said.The Tamil people too assisted us to end the war. The late Lakshman Kadirgamar was one who worked hard and won international support against terrorists in Sri Lanka, he said.
State-run media personnel attacked when returning from UNP convention
Six journalists and a cameraman were reportedly assaulted when they were returning from the UNP convention in Welisara yesterday.
The victims who were from the state run Independent Television Network (ITN) and the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corportion have been hospitalized, police said, adding that the journalists had lodged a complaint with the Wattala police.
UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayaka said that although the incident occurred outside the venue of the convention, the party condemned the attack.
Meanwhile a government statement condemning the attack stated, “The Government would like to state that the behaviour of the attackers do not come as a surprise to all peace-loving citizens of this country, as the UNF consisted of political parties such as the UNP, SLMC and others which have a dismal and unbecoming record on acts of violence perpetrated in the past on media personnel.
“It is both shocking and sad to witness that the very people who posed as the protectors of democracy and media freedom resort to acts quite contrary to their preaching.”