Friday, November 27, 2009

Ready for battle, MR calls for positive media coverage - Mata Oya Kawuruth ekai (they are all the same to me),"

President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday declared that he was not concerned about whom he had to face at the forthcoming presidential election. "Mata Oya Kawuruth ekai (they are all the same to me)," a smiling President said in response to a query raised at a meeting with the media at Temple Trees.

Referring to former Army Chief General Sarath Fonseka’s candidature at the presidential poll, President Rajapaksa said his brother Defence Secretary Gotabhaya, too, was in the army though he wore civilian clothes now. He (Gotabhaya) could no longer go out in uniform, he said adding that he was ready for any eventuality.

Asked whether he regretted the appointment of the then Chief of Staff Major General Sarath Fonseka as Commander of the Army, President Rajapaksa shot back, "Do you think I had attained the first stage in the eight-fold path leading to Arahathhood?"

Looking at the Defence Secretary, he said that he received advice more than once perhaps on three occasions regarding the appointment. Gotabhaya Rajapaksa said that he had only one objective and that was to eradicate terrorism. He was responding to a query whether he now regretted advising the President regarding the appointment.

He said that now the stage is set for the forthcoming presidential election with Elections Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake expected to set a date shortly. He said that now that the entire country had been liberated from LTTE terrorism, those who had been deprived of an opportunity to exercise their franchise at the last presidential poll in November 2005 could take part at the forthcoming process.

The LTTE disrupted polling in the entire Vanni region and parts of the Jaffna peninsula as well as the East at the last election.

Flanked by Ministers Dallas Alahapperuma and Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga, President Rajapaksa said that unlike others he had not sought legal recourse to extend his first term. "I gave up two years of my first term by calling an early election," he said.

He said that political parties in the Opposition should be always ready to face any election at any given time. He urged both the State-run and privately-owned media not to engage in mud slinging campaigns but to be fair in their coverage of the coming elections. Recalling the media coverage at the last poll, the President said that this time it was going to be worse. He said that they (read as the Rajapaksas) were being accused of waste, corruption and irregularities. He said that a big house could not be built in any part of the country without him, Gotabhaya or Basil being blamed for building another house. Referring to a luxury house now being built by a businessman, President Rajapaksa said that that, too, had been put on to his account. "We are being accused of buying coconut estates in Chilaw and houses in Colombo 7," he said calling for a positive pre-poll campaign.

>> Full Story