President Rajapaksa Declares he Wont Devolve Police and Land Powers to Provincial Councils Despite Pressure from India


Shamindra Ferdinando

President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said that he had faced far more serious situations than the prospect of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) winning the forthcoming first Northern Provincial Council polls scheduled for late September.

Addressing newspaper editors and electronic media heads at Temple Trees, President Rajapaksa said that the government was ready to cooperate with former judge C. V. Wigneswaran in case of the TNA’s victory at the September polls. The situation was not as bad as it looked, President Rajapaksa said, ruling out the devolution of police and land powers under any circumstance.

President Rajapaksa stressed that no one could pressure him to devolve police and land powers. When pointed out that India was relentlessly pushing for the implementation of the 13th Amendment and that Wigneswaran too, was on record as having said that he would fight for police and land powers, President Rajapaksa said that under no circumstances would he change his position. Turning towards Additional Foreign Secretary Kshenuka Seneviratne, the President said that the External Affairs Ministry regularly advised him not to comment on specific queries which dealt with foreign governments.

Responding to a query, the President said that those TNA members, who had been in touch with the government, were ready to work for the betterment of the people of the Northern Province even without receiving nominations to contest the September polls.

A smiling President asserted that the SLFP had received a good response from the Northerners.

Asked whether LTTE spokesperson Velayutham Dayanidhi, alias Daya Master, had been denied nomination to contest the polls on the UPFA ticket, due to pressure by EPDP leader Douglas Devananda, President Rajapaksa said that selections had been made by a special committee. He said that such allegations were baseless and added that he wasn’t in anyway involved in the selection process.

Minister Dallas Alahapperuma said that the SLFP hadn’t been able to accommodate all those who sought nominations from the SLFP to contest the September polls. He said that dropping of Daya Master meant that there were better candidates on the SLFP list. According to the National List MP, altogether 61 persons had sought nominations, though the SLFP could accommodate only 12. Those selected included two ex-TNA MPs, the minister said, adding that the SLFP felt the need to include some professionals.

Commenting on the Northwestern PC polls, Alahapperuma said that the party had received a staggering 214 applications from the districts of Kurunegala and Puttalam though there were only nine and three vacancies, respectively. The minister said that Daya Master would continue to work with the SLFP in the Northern Province, he added.