Monday, 9 February 2004  
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The right decision

With the country facing near-anarchy due to a breakdown in governance, President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga has had no alternative but to dissolve Parliament.

The collapse of the peace process and the Shylock-like irrational demand for the portfolio of defence, widespread worker unrest for reasons ranging from low wages, a spiralling cost of living to insecurity of employment, rampant corruption at levels hitherto unheard of, the prohibitive cost of fertiliser to farmers, incompetence, inefficiency, thuggery, a trail of broken promises to the people and a total disinterest in the rule of law made the Ranil Wickremesinghe-led United National Front (UNF) government's continuance in office untenable.

There are complaints of bribery against 17 Ministers,one of them even reportedly bought a Cabin Cruiser with his illgotten gains'

Undoubtedly, there will be those opposed to and critical of the President's decision to dissolve Parliament and hold a snap election, but we must be realistic in our assessment of the present political climate, which is of great turbulence.

With the preponderance of problems the country has been placed in due to the ineptitude of the UNF Government, the only solution lies in a General Election. This time around, it is hoped that the country will elect a strong new Government capable of solving the problems that we are beset with.

The UNF Government came into power accompanied by allegations of pre-election wheeler-dealing.

The accusation that it had come to a secret deal with the LTTE, in which the Tigers supported the UNF in exchange for a pledge to grant the Tiger demands has gained credibility with the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), an appendage of the terrorist organisation, playing a big role in sustaining the Wickremesinghe Government.

The pre-election clandestine agreement with the LTTE seemed confirmed when the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed without the knowledge of the President by the Tiger leader and the Prime Minister.

In fact, right from the very inception the UNF showed its servility to the LTTE when the Premier signed the MoU only after Prabhakaran. In other words, it could well be construed that Mr. Wickremesinghe had endorsed the document after it was approved by Prabhakaran. From then on, it was a one-way street with the LTTE playing the pied piper and the government dancing to its tune.

The UNF Government released without a proper search LTTE boats with weapons intercepted by the Navy. It released LTTE boats with weapons and cadres even when weapons were found in the boats by the Navy.

It failed to prevent the infiltration of LTTE intelligence operatives and strengthen security in the City of Colombo even after directives by the President to do so.

It allowed a top LTTE cadre to reside in a hotel close to the President's House despite this being a danger to the life of the President. It failed to prevent an LTTE build-up in Trincomalee.

This, when a report by the US Pacific Command Assessment Team dealing with the issue of the Trincomalee harbour defence stated that "currently the LTTE controls the Southern portion of the harbour.

From this area the LTTE has effectively monitored all ship movements in and out of the harbour and can launch suicide and artillery attacks against the naval base and could potentially destroy an vessel coming in and out of the harbour...".

In the East, the Government failed to give security to the Muslims who were constantly harassed by the LTTE. It failed to prevent the LTTE's conscription of children. It failed to stop the ethnic cleansing of Muslims in Muttur by the LTTE. It failed to prevent the proliferation of LTTE administrative structures including 'police stations' in Government-controlled areas.

The Government also stands indicted with the failure to prevent the assassination of Army intelligence informants by the LTTE. It stands charged with the failure to protect the officers of the Army intelligence unit at Athurugiriya.

The raid on the Army safehouse at Millennium City carrying out deep penetration missions, was led by a politically motivated police officer and his fellow conspirators.

It failed to maintain the military preparedness of the Armed Forces by updating and replenishing equipment and weapons. The UNF allowed the Sea Tigers unfettered access in the seas to engage in logistical movements with weapons and cadres in violation of the ceasefire agreement. It failed to provide adequate security to those threatened by the LTTE even after directions by the President.

It failed to prevent the assassination and harassment of political opponents by the LTTE, especially the EPDP and other groups who gave up their personal security weapons following the ceasefire agreement.

As a result of these and many more glaring lapses in defence, the President had no alternative but to take back the defence portfolio which the Constitution has stipulated should only be vested with the President. This has been confirmed by the Supreme Court.

In another ridiculous move that showed how weak it was, the UNF Government appointed as many as 32 Cabinet Ministers including the Prime Minister, 27 Ministers and 10 deputy ministers. This large number apparently was a form of insurance against defections.

Providentially, the people have now been given a chance to decide as to who is best suited to rule this country and restore peace and stability.

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