Kumaratunga places anti-LTTE record as poll case
[TamilNet, Friday, 09 November 2001, 02:49 GMT]
(News Feature) Sri Lanka's President Kumaratunga Thursday placed her government's hardline approach towards fighting the Liberation Tigers and defending the unity of the country as the central plank of the ruling People's Alliance (PA) election strategy for the forthcoming polls in December. In a lengthy interview in Sinhala to state-owned media on Thursday, translated into English by the official Daily News newspaper on Friday, Kumaratunga also reiterated her accusations that the main opposition United National Party (UNP) was in collusion with the Tamils and the LTTE to dismember the country and vowed to prevent this at any cost. The President slammed critics of her governance as "barking dogs," defectors from her party as "rats," and insisted Sri Lanka's economy was healthy, citing as evidence figures that showed more taxis were on the roads since 1994 and that people were eating more chicken now.
"We [PA] are continuing to fight the terrorism of [LTTE leader] Prabhakaran. We are not against Tamils but are poised against terrorists and will continue to fight them," Kumaratunga said when asked about her strategy to end the war and establish peace.
"It is we who have weakened the links of the LTTE internationally. It is we who brought pressure on the UK, US, and Malaysia to ban the LTTE in those countries. Our efforts weakened the financial base of the LTTE worldwide."
She accused the UNP of being in alliance with the Parliamentary Tamil parties and the LTTE to undermine the country's integrity, and said the Tamil language parties were giving publicity to the UNP manifesto.
"As the LTTE became weaker due to our pressure on the international front, they changed their tactics. The LTTE who opposed any elections began wooing the UNP," she said. President Kumaratunga claimed that in 1999 the Tigers had campaigned for the UNP.
"The UNP tries hard to defeat the PA Government in the budget with the blessings of the Tamil parties, but they failed," she said. "Today the UNP has formed a United National Front with five Tamil parties who have decided to be stooges of the LTTE."
"They [Tamil parties] are supporting the UNP on certain conditions. That is to lift the ban on the LTTE and to give the promised Interim Council for the North and East to Prabhakaran for 5 years... The UNP cannot deny this," Kumaratunga said.
"This is conceding separation and division of our country. As long as I am in power as President of this country, I will never allow this," she said.
She challenged UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe to reject the Tamils' cause: "I shall ask him to answer three questions: Do you recognise the right of self determination for the Tamils? Do you recognise their Tamil Homeland theory and demand of the LTTE for separation?"
"I have not taken up this challenging office with a view to earning money. I have lost an eye, and am ready even to sacrifice my life for the welfare of my people. As long as I am alive I will not allow the separation of our country," the President said.
"It is left to my people to vote prudently and wisely in the forthcoming crucial election that decides our future," she said.
Denying accusations of being dictatorial, Kumaratunga quoted Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar. "If you had listened to what Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar had to say in his recent interview on Rupavahini on this matter, you will see how patient a listener I am. Dogs can bark and rats can run to the other side. That's OK. He paid me the greatest compliment on this matter."
Kumaratunga dismissed accusations that Sri Lanka's economy was in ruins. "If the economy is in ruins how can the quantum of three wheeler taxis increase from 90,000 in 1994 to 800,000 today? How can the consumption of chicken increase from 20 metric tons in 1994 to 90 metric tons today? How can Cooking Gas consumption increase from 130,000 cylinders in 1994 to 850,000 cylinders today? That the economy is in ruins is only wishful thinking and dreams of the UNP. Their arguments are poppy cock."