The government would not baulk at anything in its efforts to wipe out LTTE terrorism, President Mahinda Rajapaksa said yesterday addressing a group newspaper editors and heads of electronic media institutions at Temple Trees.
No amount of terror strikes or any other pressure would stand in his way and the on-going military campaign would be conducted to a successful conclusion, he said asking the LTTE to target him and not innocent civilians. `Target me and spare civilians` said the President, `for I am responsible for what is being done to the LTTE.`
He said his resolve to remove the scourge of terrorism had not been affected at all by the brutal acts of the LTTE had resorted to in a bid to pressure the government to abandon its military offensives. `Tigers have, through such barbarity, only laid bare their true faces to the world,` the President said, `and strengthened our position that terrorism needs to be eliminated.`
However, he said, his government did not believe in a military solution to the conflict and was amenable to a political settlement. `But the LTTE terrorism must be stopped at all cost,` he said, if a political solution is to be evolved.` The LTTE, he said had scuttled all past peace attempts and, therefore, neutralizing it was a prerequisite for finding and implementing a political solution.
President Rajapaksa said by clearing the Eastern Province and conducting a Provincial Council election, the government had sent a strong message to the people of the North and the international community. `We are ready to safeguard the rights of the Tamil people and share power with them, but we won t give in to terrorism,` he said.
He said the government was in the process of empowering the Eastern Province people, having handed back civil administration to people s representatives through an election. Many development projects were on in that part of the country and anyone could visit those areas and see for himself the progress in the developmental work there.
President Rajapaksa said in spite of the current military campaign against the LTTE, the government had not failed in its duty by the people trapped in the LTTE-held areas. He said the government was looking after their needs. `Recently, when I was informed that the farmers in those areas could not dispose of their paddy,` he said, `I ordered that their produce be purchased immediately.` He said the government still fed the people of the Wanni and spent funds on their education, healthcare etc despite the fact that the LTTE, too, benefited from such welfare measures.