'Our choice is between Prosperity and War'- Ranil
[TamilNet, Sunday, 15 December 2002, 00:00 GMT]
Sri Lanka's Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, said that the country has entered a critical stage and people of Sri Lanka have to choose between prosperity and war while addressing the forty eighth annual general meeting of the United National Party (UNP), the main constituent of the United National Front (UNF) government Saturday at the Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium in Colombo.
Prime Minister further said, "ethnic conflict could be resolved only through political negotiations and not by military means."
"Decades of war has drained our resources and debt repayment has placed significant burden on the Government. Although the State is unable to provide immediate relief to those in desperate need, we are embarking on initiating development projects that will take the country out of the dismal economic situation. Next year, for example, these projects will provide up to twenty thousand new jobs in the new year.
"Creating an environment that encourages private enterprise is necessary to reduce unemployment and make rapid economic progress," said the Prime Minister.
He conceded that there were certain setbacks in implementing the Memorandum of Understanding between his government and the LTTE but added that these setbacks should not be allowed to derail the peace process.
No development or economic prosperity is possible in a climate of war, the Prime Minister said, and requested the cooperation of people of Sri Lanka in helping him to make progress in the peace talks.
Several resolutions were adopted at the UNP convention including one which empowered the Prime Minister to find a permanent political solution to the national crisis acceptable to all communities.
Meanwhile, the Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP), which is a constituent of the main opposition Peoples Alliance, said Saturday that LSSP welcomes the Norwegian peace initiative to find a political solution to the ethnic conflict.
Mr. Batty Weerakoon, leader of the LSSP distanced LSSP from the announcement made by Mr.Lakshman Kadirgamar, an advisor to President Kumaratunge, that the Peoples Alliance (PA) will not support any peace solution until the LTTE laid down their arms. Mr. Batty Weerakoon said that Mr.Kadirgamar's statement is not the voice of People's Alliance.