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15th October 2000
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A nation's final salute to the world's first Prime
Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike at her funeral
last evening at Horagolla. In the front row Deputy 
Defence Minister Anuruddha Ratwatte, NUA leader
Rauf Hakeem, President Chandrika Kumaratunga
and family members.

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NUA and EPDP make demands

The National Unity Alliance (NUA), the successor to the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, put forward a string of conditions for its continued support to administer a government, including the introduction of a new constitution.

The NUA which has a minimal but crucial four seats in the newly elected Parliament, with another eight within the PA list, including the National list members, thus making a total of 12, has also called for the setting up of independent police, elections and public service commissions-long time demands of the opposition UNP. NUA leader Rauf Hakeem who entered Parliament through a controversial vote in the Kandy district said yesterday "I want to be fiercely independent in the government."

Mr. Hakeem, who earlier said the NUA's support for any party would be based on the national interest pledged "I am going to play this historic role in a very positive way"

At the same time, the NUA is demanding a plethora of diplomatic, governorship, cabinet and deputy ministerial appointments for its members.

A similar demand has been made by the Eelam People's Democratic Party (EPDP) which received only 50, 890 or less than 1 per cent of the total vote cast at last Tuesday's Parliamentary elections but also has 4 seats in addition to one independent member from the Digamadulla district, who secured 12,590 votes.

Mr. Hakeem told The Sunday Times "We have 12 MPs and at least half of them will be ministers or deputies." Former Deputy Minister M. L. A. M. Hisbulla, who lost his seat in the Batticaloa district is likely to be accommodated on the National List.

Mr. Hakeem dismissed reports that one of the NUA demands was to abolish the executive presidency and on the contrary backed the executive presidency saying it was a "protective mechanism."

Criticising the way President Kumaratunga's "rank and file" behaved, he howvever did not indicate he wanted a re-count in the Kandy district. Mr. Hakeem said that though the NUA helped the PA in forming a government he did not expect the relations with the PA to be smooth. "We will have to protest from within when the need arises."

Earlier reports said Mr. Hakeem had demanded that Anuruddha Ratwatte not be re-appointed as the Deputy Defence Minister. He also played down reports that the NUA was asking for the transport and highways portfolio held by its rival A. H. M. Fowzie. Mr. Hakeem on Thursday met UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe before meeting President Kumaratunga late Thursday night.

The EPDP has demanded that a party representative be appointed as the chairman of the proposed north-east interim council and the portfolio of the North and East Rehabilitation, earlier held by Sarath Amunugama.

Mr. Devananda last evening in his oration at Sirimavo Bandaranaike's funeral said he too had requested President Kumaratunga to bring in the new constitution.

The bargaining to secure the support from the minority parties began as soon as the results started coming in last Wednesday.

The JVP which initially declared that it would not support any of the main parties, later reconsidered its position and was reportedly willing to offer conditional support to the UNP after a prominent Buddhist monk advised it.

JVP spokesman Wimal Weerawansa told The Sunday Times that both main parties had contacted them to form a government, but the party had decided not to support either.

However after the NUA decided to support the PA on Friday, the UNP's chances of forming a government faded.

Accordingly, Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake was quickly re-sworn in as the premier on Friday afternoon.

The new House is scheduled to meet on Wednesday.

No. 1 thugs run amok in Central Province

The Sunday Times photojournalist Ranjit Perera was on assignment on polls day in the Kandy district, where there were allegations of widespread polls rigging, intimidation, thuggery and other forms of violence.

A VIP's supporters in a vehicle marked 'Anuruddha XI' at a polling booth at Polgolla

A VIP's supporters in a vehicle marked 'Anuruddha XI' at a polling booth at Polgolla

He was eyewitness to how bus loads of able bodied men, armed with weapons, clubs and knives, blatantly violated polls laws by harassing innocent voters and running an organised campaign of intimidation.

As Ranjit Perera's pictures on this page and on page 4 show, a group sat in a blue van, parked just outside a Polling Station. Its number plates were obscured with a poster which said "1-Anuruddha X" in Sinhala. Those who sat outside on a bund held stacks of poll cards. Men and women who walked towards the van collected these cards and moved towards the polling station. 

There were others who operated in buses that drove from one area to another. The able bodied men who alighted near polling stations not only distributed poll cards but also chased away others walking to the polling station with their own poll cards. Evidently, these men and women came from an area that was the stronghold of a rival candidate. Here too, the number plates in buses were obscured by a poster which read "1-Anuruddha X" in Sinhala. 

The vehicle parked close to the polling booth
The vehicle parked close to the polling booth

No 1 was the number allotted to Anuruddha Ratwatte, Minister of Power and Energy and Deputy Minister of Defence. In his latter portfolio, the security forces and the Police, who have the responsibility of maintaining law and order, came under his purview. Yet, most of the policemen who were on duty were helpless. Vanloads of men drove around the Kandy town, waving flags bearing the words "1-Anuruddha."

Acting on complaints of violence and intimidation ahead of polls, President Chandrika Kumaratunga, sent the Police Special Task Force to supplement police strength. Together with policemen trained in infantry oriented tasks, they withstood repeated pressure in their bid to maintain law and order. 

When our photojournalist began clicking his camera, a group of men from a bus alighted. A conscientious policeman who saw this whisked him away to the Kadugannawa Police Station. The policemen told him that a group had planned to stop his vehicle en route to Colombo and assault him. Ranjit Perera's own exclusive photographs and report of polls in the Kandy District appear on Page 4.

Journey's end for Sirimavo

As the bugles played the Last Post, Sirimavo Bandaranaike, the woman who has come to be called the mother of the nation, was laid to rest at the Horogolla Samadhi beside her husband.

The funeral was conducted with full state and military honours.

She was taken to her final resting place around 6 p.m., looked on by the grieving children Sunethra, Chandrika and Anura and her two grandchildren Yasodhara and Vimukthi.

Tens of thousands of grieving people stood by to witness the solemn event along with foreign leaders, including India's Vice President, religious prelates, top diplomats and leaders of all parties.

The former Prime Minister's cortege left the Bandaranaike's ancestral home Horagolla Walauwa around 2.30 p.m. 

At the Nittambuwa town, the casket was handed over to the military from where it was brought to the Horogolla Samadhiya in a gun carriage with thousands of troops from three armed forces and the police lining up to salute Ms. Bandaranaike, who served as Prime Minister for three terms.

As the 21 gun salute thundered around the area which saw her growing from a young wife to stateswoman, the people who gathered across the road from Horagolla Walauwa stood in silence paying tribute to a leader who placed Sri Lanka on the world map. 

At the Horogolla Samadhi, religious rites were performed by the Attanagalla Rajamahaviharadhipathi Venerable Panvila Sri Ananda Thera.

Catholic, Hindu and Muslim religious leaders too delivered surmons to bless the late leader.

Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayke who delivered the funeral oration on behalf of the government said that among other things, Ms. Bandaranaike had paved the way for women all over the world to reach the highest post in politics.

He said the foresight, courage and determination of Ms. Bandaranaike were an inspiration for several generations of Sri Lanka and it was the good fortune of the country that she was able to serve the country for over four decades.

Former minister Lakshman Jayakody known to be a trusted leiutenanat of Ms. Bandaranaiek for some four decades compared the late leader's bravery to the French heroine Joan of Arc and her love and compassion to the common man to the likes of Mother Theresa.

Among the foreign VIPs at the funeral were Indian Vice-President Krishan Kant, Bahrain's crown prince Sheik Salam Bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, Croatian President Stjepan Mesic, Croatia's Prime Minister Ivica Racan, Lithuania's Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius and Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei.

Among others who gave orations were UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, NUA leader Rauf Hakeem, CWC leader Arumugam Thondaman, EPDP leader Douglas Devananda while Minister S. B. Dissanayake spoke on behalf of the SLFP and Minsiter D.M. Jayaratne on behalf of the PA.

In touching scenes as the long journey of Ms. Bandaranaike neared its end, President Kumaratung and her politically estranged brother Anura were seen embracing each other in tears. Ms. Bandaranaike's youngest brother Clifford Ratwatte gave the vote of thanks on behalf of the family.

Lohan in remand

By Shane Seneviratne
The man at the centre of the unprecedented election violence in Kandy Minister Anuruddha Ratwatte's son Lohan was arrested and whisked to Colombo on Friday and is now in remand.

Police sources told The Sunday Times yesterday that Ratwatte junior alleged to be on a political rampage for weeks was finally arrested after senior police officers demanded that action be taken against him.

They said the breaking point was the alleged incident where Lohan Ratwatte led a gang of about hundred to threaten the Kandy DIG with death.

In the aftermath of this, several top police officers are reported to have told the acting police chief there would be a major crisis if Ratwatte junior was not arrested.

Lohan Ratwatte was brought to Colombo, questioned at Police Headquarters and taken back to Kandy where the chief magistrate remanded him till October 28.

Kandy district was rocked by alleged intimidation, vote rigging and violence, compelling the Commissioner of Elections to delay the counting of votes till a full probe was made and the voting in 13 booths was cancelled.

Election observers and religious leaders, including the Malwatte Mahanayake, have charged that the election in the Kandy district was corrupted by violence and that a VIP family was mainly responsible for it.


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