President Mahinda Rajapaksa addressing the annual National Convention of the SLFP at the Khettarama Stadium yesterday evening noted that the Government would decide in due course what election should be held first. When the President inquired from around 100,000 SLFP members who had filled the Khettrama, whether they wanted a Presidential or a Parliamentary election first, the overwhelming response was - a Presidential poll.
The President in lighter vain said Do you want me to cut short two years? and added that he would put the request of the membership to the party to make a decision.
He also opined that whatever comes first it would be held at a time when the LTTE was not in the Sri Lankan political map.
He said that when the LTTE was a force to reckon with some Opposition political parties out of fear had prepared their election policies to please the Tigers. However, these parties should thank us for wiping out the LTTE as now they don t have to fear the Tigers when assessing their election policies, he added.
Yesterday s SLFP Convention was held in a colourful atmosphere with many cultural events depicting national unity among all communities entertaining the jubilant audience. Continuing his address, the President paid a glowing tribute to the late SWRD Bandaranaike, DA Rajapaksa and others who formed the SLFP 58 years ago and added he was proud and honoured to lead such a party. The President observed that the Sri Lanka Freedom Party had stood for its name sake and had given the leadership to free the country from the clutches of terror.
He further noted that it was this Government led by the SLFP which had completed almost 99 per cent of their election pledges in the shortest span of time.
The President stressed that the SLFP was a party that had put the nation before itself and added that the membership with their exemplary behaviour also had ushered a new political culture of democracy and cohesiveness sans discrimination of opposing members.
He noted that today the SLFP had come a long way from its humble beginings and was a strong party that could face all challenges.
President Rajapaksa also added that the SLFP was a party which thought of today s children and those to be born. Our party has created a free nation for generations to live without fear , he stressed.
Thus as members of a party which has such high values you could go anywhere and proudly say that you are SLFP s. Likewise all Sri Lankans too could go any where around the globe and proudly say that they are Sri Lankans now, he added.Referring to opportune politics of the Opposition, President Rajapaksa stressed that such parties and policies had no strength and they belonged to the past and not to the future.
He added that the main Opposition party which had such great leaders as D.S. Senanayake in the past was today without a Presidential candidate and was going begging around to find a suitable one.
The President also stressed that he was not a leader who was prepared to surrender to what the international community wanted to plunder but was ready to offer anything to the people of his country to uplift the nation.
He further said that with the successful end to the battle to protect the nation now another battle was being fought to develop the country and usher prosperity. However, some patriots who were with us during the battle to protect the nation might not be with us in the battle to develop it, he added.
The President said that the Government had a viable plan to develop the country and would usher a century of development. Next we would surprise the world with our swift march towards development, he added.He also said the first oil well will bear results in 2010 and Sir Lanka could proudly use its own fuel for consumption.
Thanking the international delegates participating at the event the President said that the numbers indicated the high recognition Sri Lanka garners in the global circuits. He called upon the gathering to express tribute and gratitude to the foreign delegates present at the Convention.
During the Convention five resolutions were presented for the conventions approval by senior members of the SLFP such as Political Resolution, War Heroes Felicitation Resolution, Economic Resolution, National Reconciliation Resolution and International Affairs Resolution.
The Convention was also attended by representatives of other parties supporting the SLFP. A large number of Clergy, Cabinet Ministers and well wishers too were in attendance.