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A birthday wish comes true

As President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga reaches an important milestone in her life today - her 60th birthday - we are certain that nothing would be considered by her as more welcome than the realisation that she has further strengthened the foundation for the resumption of the country's peace process. This comes in the form of the P-TOMS agreement which was courageously and boldly brought into existence by her for the greater good of Sri Lanka.

The warm accolades the Government is receiving from important foreign governments, such as those of the US and India, over the P-TOMS, are further proof that President Kumaratunga is not labouring in vain for her country.

It has always been President Kumaratunga's dream to bring ethnic peace to Sri Lanka. She made initial moves in this direction along with her late husband, Vijaya Kumaratunga, who went the extra mile to break the cold barrier of mistrust which separated the communities inhabiting North-East and Southern Sri Lanka.

After Vijaya's untimely death, Chandrika Kumaratunga resumed the protracted and challenging task of bringing peace to Sri Lanka. This arduous task was on top of her agenda right along. She has fought all major elections since 1994 as the 'peace candidate' and has won resoundingly, except in 2001 December, when the PA suffered defeat at the hands of the UNF in that year's parliamentary elections. However, in the two presidential elections, since 1994, Chandrika Kumaratunga has won overwhelming popular mandates to bring ethnic peace. The fact that she nearly lost her life at the last presidential election, speaks volumes for her selflessness and courage in the march towards peace.

Some of President Kumaratunga's major peace initiatives have, unfortunately, fallen victim to power politics. In early 1995, for instance, the LTTE reneged on a peace plan which was taking shape between it and the Government. Later, the draft 2000 constitution which could form the basis of a renewed peace drive, was burnt in Parliament by the UNP. On both occasions, President Kumaratunga clinched a moral victory because her earnestness to press ahead to bring peace, could never be questioned. On the other hand, her antagonists stood exposed as opportunistic, self-serving and as being diametrically opposed to a just peace.

The P-TOMS opens a new chapter in President Kumaratunga's search for a just peace. Once again, she stands tall as a leader who is unyielding to chauvinistic and hegemonic forces who are intent on keeping the country burning in the flames of war.

May she prevail over these dark forces, is our wish.

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