Monday, 9 February 2004  
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Country saved from anarchy

A cross section of members of the clergy, academics and politicians yesterday welcomed President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga's decision to dissolve Parliament and call a General Election on April 2.

Political parties also said they were getting ready to contest the election despite the short campaigning period.

Parliament was dissolved on February 7 midnight. Nominations will be called between February 17 and 24. Campaigning will begin in earnest after the nominations.

Peradeniya University Political Science Divisional Head Prof. Gamini Samaranayake said the President's decision to dissolve Parliament was a "timely step".

He said the public was extremely dissatisfied over the way the Government was running the country, with people finding it extremely difficult even to continue with their day to day lives.

"The prices of goods and services and the cost of living have sky rocketed.

"It had come to a situation of total anarchy, apparent in islandwide strikes, death fasts and demonstrations," Prof. Samaranayake said.

He also said that the government was making use of the ethnic conflict in the North as a ruse to meet their own political and personal ends without fulfilling the hopes and aspirations of the people.

He also said that the President had considered these issues and given the country's masses an opportunity to make a decision to rectify their problems.

"Politically, she has made the right decision in dissolving the Parliament and going in for a general election," he said.

President Kumaratunga's decision to dissolve Parliament at this juncture on the verge of an imminent anarchy in the country is a most sensible and timely step, stated Ven. Keppetiyagoda Siri Wimala Nayaka Thera, the Chief Incumbent of Rajopavanaramaya, Getambe, Kandy.

Hailing the President's act of dissolving the Parliament effective from the midnight of February 7, the Thera observed that the idea of electing a Government is to forge ahead with a development program that will solve the people's problems and usher in prosperity.

"But the UNF Government during the past two years of their rule devastated the country by creating various problems in every sphere including labour and agricultural sectors and brought about instability by selling out national assets in the guise of privatisation," the Thera added.

The Nayaka Thera stated that the President, time and again, invited the UNF Government to cooperate with her to form up a consensual political program to rebuild the country, but to no avail.

Under such circumstances the dissolution of Parliament was the only option she had to give the masses the opportunity to bring in a strong Government capable of resuscitating the country, the ven. Nayaka Thera said.

Registrar of Asgiriya Chapter Ven. Warakawe Dhammaloka said that the political situation had created a crisis in the country and what was needed was a fair and violence free election to ensure that the will of the people prevailed.

"There is a crying need for politicians to work together for the good of the country. What we need is an election that is fair and one that will protect the rights of the people," the Thera said.

A spokesman for the People's Alliance lauded the President's decision, saying it would provide the masses with an opportunity to oust a regime which had betrayed the nation. The people will give a fitting reply to the UNF regime on April 2, he said.

"The government has broken all promises given to the people. National security has been endangered. Nothing has been done to alleviate the suffering of poor masses. The people have now got a chance to elect a progressive government which will fulfil their wishes," he said.

The United National Front expressed optimism that they will be re-elected to office at the April 2 Elections.

Lands Minister Rajitha Senaratne speaking to the Daily News said that the UNP welcomed the election and that moderates would vote for the UNP as the government has achieved a considerable progress during past two years.

"We brought peace to the war battered island, after two decades. We cut down the inflation by half and stabilises the rupee value and the Sri Lankan stock market became one of the world's best performing stack markets.

Therefore we are quite confident that we can win this election. What will happen in the election forth coming election is that the JVP will increase its representation at the expense of PA whilst the UNP vote base will remain intact," he said.

Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) General Secretary Hasan Ali said his party would 'go it alone' at the forthcoming election and said that they have extended an open invitation to all Muslim parties to join the SLMC and to contest under the Tree symbol in the general election.

Director Administration of the Ceylon Workers Alliance R.K. Suresh welcomed the election, predicting a strong mandate for the SLFP-JVP Alliance.

"The PA-JVP MoU is the first step to build a united Sri Lanka. Some disgruntled and bankrupt politicians instill in the minds of progressive masses that the PA-JVP Alliance will lead to disaster. We are confident that the Alliance will obtain a stronger mandate," he said.

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