A former child-soldier demits office


COLOMBO, June 27, 2012

It’s election time again in Sri Lanka. Late on Wednesday night, the North Central, Sabaragamuwa and Eastern Province Councils were dissolved. The Northern Province continues to be the only one without an elected council.

Elections to these three provincial councils are likely to be held in August, after a notification and a 45-day campaign. The most important of these elections will be in the Eastern Province, which has the only Tamil Chief Minister outside Tamil Nadu, Sivanesathurai Santhirakanthan alias Pillaiyan, a former LTTE child soldier. “There are 10 more months for my term of office to end. But I am sure people will bring us back with a thumping majority. I was for dissolving the Council and going for fresh elections…I leave the post of Chief Minister with great satisfaction,” said Mr. Santhirakanthan, in his first interview after the news of the dissolution was announced.

“We have proved to the world that all communities can live together in peace and harmony, without any fear. This I consider my greatest achievement,” said Mr. Santhirakanthan, who assumed office in mid-2008. His party, the Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Puligal, has seven seats in the out-going Council. “I was able to show the people of the Province that we were not talking one thing and doing another. If Eastern Province has progressed so much, in such a short time, I think we can genuinely take credit for it,” he added.
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