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First Head of State ever to visit Kilinochchi

Wide acclaim for President's Kilinochchi visit

Several political party leaders and members of the clergy hailed President Mahinda Rajapaksa's visit to Kilinochchi, not long ago the de facto capital of the LTTE's so called Eelam state.

They said the visit was a historic one which reinforced the Government's writ in the entirety of the North and one which raises hopes among the Tamil civilians for a peaceful future.

Ven. Galagama Aththadassi Anunayaka Thera of the Malwatte Chapter, Siam Nikaya and Viharadhipathi, Raja Maha Viharaya, Mahiyangana said the President's visit, no doubt is a further boost to efforts at achieving peace and harmony among all ethnic communities.

Ven. Galagama Aththadassi Anunayaka Thera

Ven Bellanwila Wimalarathana Thera

Ven Elle Gunawansha Thera

"A Head of State visiting an area which was ravaged by conflict until recently, to personally inspect the well-being of the troops and displaced civilians is commendable.

That the visit occurred on traditional Sinhala and Tamil New Year adds significance." Sri Jayawardenepura University Chancellor Ven Bellanwila Wimalaratana Thera said the visit by the President to Kilinochchi is a moment of pride for the whole Nation. "The endeavour culminates recent military achievements in defeating terrorism.

Thus, what we should do now is fall in line and strengthen the President's hand in achieving the next step, which is to save the trapped civilians in Mullaitivu and ensure their well- being with necessary facilities."

Ven Elle Gunawansha Thera said he personally does not agree with the President's visit, on the grounds of personal security issues. "I have to agree that the history making visit was also a heroic achievement by a Head of State in recent times.

The country is fortunate to have such a leader at this crucial juncture in Sri Lanka's history." Balaravishankara Sivachariar Sami, Hindu priest of the Sri Gnanabaihara Kovil said President Rajapaksa is the only leader who has shown readiness to lend a sympathetic ear to the plight of the Tamils.

Minister Douglas

Governor Tikiri Kobbekaduwa

Dr. Harischandra

"We are proud that the President made this historic trip to Kilinochchi even ignoring the security threat to empathise with the trials and tribulations of the people of the North".

He said President Rajapaksa will go down in history as the first Head of State who visited Kilinochchi at risk to his life to pay tribute to the soldiers as well as the Tamil people.

"There were attempts before this to resolve the conflict.

But these plans were discussed in Colombo away from the scene of the conflict. These turned out to be mere political stunts. The President's visit to Kilinochchi has given strength to the Tamil people."

"As a member of the Hindu clergy and as a Tamil, I am confident that the President would do his utmost to improve the lot of the Tamil people in their education and economic wise."

Jaffna District Parliamentarian and Social Services and Social Welfare Minister Douglas Devananda said the President made this historic visit at a very crucial juncture in the country's history.

"The first ever visit to the area by a Head of State is not only a morale booster for the security forces, but also an encouraging factor for trapped civilians in Mullaitivu, who are striving to escape Tiger clutches.

Also during the visit, the President was able to witness the destruction caused to infrastructure in the area personally, which could in future act as a catalyst in proposed development programs," he told the Daily News. Central Province Governor Tikiri Kobbekaduwa said while Velupillai Prabhakaran has painted himself as a coward while claiming to be the liberator of the Tamil people President Mahinda Rajapaksa has shown the true mettle and courage of a Head of State by visiting Kilinochchi, an event which would written in letters of gold in the country's history, the Governor said.

He said the President's historic visit to pay tribute to our heroic soldiers who are fighting to protect the country's sovereignty and territorial integrity and also to wish them a happy New Year is also equal to the country as whole paying their gratitude to these valiant men.

Leader of the Bhoomi Puthra Party Dr. Harischandra Wijetunga said the visit by President Rajapaksa who is a people's leader to Kilinochchi could be termed as a brave act.

The visit also reinforces the position that Sri Lanka is a unitary state under a single leader.

"At the time he was the Prime Minister, he was unable to go to Jaffna. Today he visited Kilinochchi as the President of the country. This shows that the country is under firm rule under one flag and one leadership." He said the visit also is proof that the Government's writ prevails in these areas and also the establishment of a civilian adminstration.

The Tamil people have been granted a freedom they have not enjoyed for a long time. The President will be able to commence development work for the benefit of the people in the North within a short period, he added.

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