By Dianne Silva
President Mahinda Rajapaksa assured he will reduce unnecessary powers of the Executive Presidency and believes that the present election campaign has been degraded from a presentation of political issues to a struggle between classes.
While meeting with a group of English and Tamil Newspapers on Wednesday the President stated that a far greater majority of the Tamil Parties were in support of him, than with the opposition common candidate. “Thondaman, Douglas Devananda, Pillayan, Sidharthan they are all with me. Even certain persons in the TNA have told me in confidence that they support me but are with the TNA simply because they don’t want to divide the party,” the President said in response to a question raised by Daily Mirror online.
When asked by Daily Mirror online if he would reduce the powers of the Executive Presidency, the President replied “I will limit all the unnecessary powers. What have I done with the powers I got? I only got the LTTE banned and stopped the ceasefire.” When probed on the extent to which he would limit his powers he stated “
That parliament will have to decide.”
The President elaborated on the fact that he has never been an ambitious politician. “I have never been an ambitious man- I never had dreams of becoming a politician or the Prime Minister from the time I was a school boy. What I tell all our young politicians is that- be with the people and that is enough. I am a party man if the party tells me to go I will go,” he said.
On matters of constitutional reform the President stated that he would give the people the 13th amendment where the upper house would ensure the rights of the people were protected. “I will give 13 plus 1 with the upper house; with the upper house the rights of the people will be protected. The 13th amendment must transfer the powers to the people. However the Police powers I will not give- ask anyone in Colombo if I they will like it if the police powers were given to any provincial council. All this time I was asking them (the Tamil Parties) for proposals. But this time I am going to present the proposal and tell them “if you want to add anything we will discuss it.” the President said.
With regard to the 17th amendment the President questioned the independence of the independent commissions the amendment suggested be appointed. “This amendment was only passed to keep governments going; who is appointing these independent committees? Politicians will do it. Therefore how can you say they are independent? The President questioned.
The promises of changing the constitution or implementing these things are only done to satisfy politicians- if you give them the 13th amendment then they will want something more then a separate sate likewise it will go on- they cant be satisfied
The President stated that the opposition no longer had a political foothold and therefore had reduced their campaign to that of a class struggle. “This election then has ultimately come down to a class struggle- they have no political issues to talk about. They can’t say I sold any banks or buildings- the money is all there for the people to see. I am a man from the village and I am not ashamed to say it. They say corruption and attribute the buying over of all these small places to me; they don’t talk about me owning land in America, Australia or England because if they did then that puts me into a different class-it puts me into their class,” he said.
The President expressed his confidence of winning the upcoming election. “I am not afraid I have am confident that I will win with a comfortable margin,” he said
On matters of corruption the President questioned why no actions had been taken by the opposition during his tenure in office. “If they had proof why didn’t they bring a no confidence motion against me; they did it for the former President; Chandrika Bandaranayaka but they never presented one against me. For 70 years my family has been in politics-would I spoil my name just for a few bucks,” he said.
When questioned on his foreign policy, if he were to go in for a second term the President said he would follow policy of non-alignment like his predecessors. “Non-aligned not aligned with the west or the east or the gulf, that has always been our policy,” he said. (Daily Mirror online)