Gen. Fonseka promises free movement in North

Wooing Tamil voters

Lifting the state of emergency, removing high-security zones and allowing the free movement of people in weapons-free areas are among the proposals that main opposition Presidential candidate General Sarath Fonseka has put forward in his bid to woo the Tamil minority community.

The Tamil minority vote is seen as crucial to General Fonseka’s campaign to win the January 26 election. The former Army commander elaborated on some of his proposals during his maiden tour of Jaffna yesterday as a Presidential candidate and civilian.

General Fonseka’s proposals – listed under a Programme of Immediate Relief Measures for War-affected Persons – include the release of detained persons, if there is no evidence of involvement with the rebels, and a general amnesty for all rebel combatants and their rehabilitation.

The proposals say once civil administration and normalcy are restored, Gen. Fonseka will ensure the resumption of all civil administration institutions, from the Grama Niladhari upwards; return private land and buildings occupied by the armed forces and the government to their original owners; restore fishing rights; resume train services from the south to Jaffna, and build a new rail line, with private sector participation, from Point Pedro to Trincomalee.

According to sources, the action programme, which includes details of support for displaced persons, will become immediately effective, should General Fonseka win the Presidential election.

Once normal civil administration is established, committees will be set up in each district. These committees will comprise representatives, including a nominee of the President, Divisional Secretaries, other officials, MPs and/or their representatives, representatives of local authorities, judicial officers, commanders of security forces, and police and civic representatives.

They will send monthly reports to the President, the Cabinet and the Parliament, while a dedicated Secretariat will be established under the President to monitor progress and ensure implementation.

As far as possible, Tamil-speaking police officers will be appointed to Tamil-speaking areas.

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