PM heralds peace at party convention
By Nilika de Silva
Prime Minister and UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday reiterated
that he was confident of achieving success in his peace effort though the
path ahead was a hazardous one.
"The road we travel will not be short, it is a long road. It is a road
on which you cannot travel fast. It is a slow road. It is not an easy road.
It is a difficult road. The road to peace is slippery, rugged and full
of potholes. We will travel on it with eyes open to ensure that we deliver
peace without dividing the country," Mr. Wickremesinghe told UNP members
at the party's 47th convention at the Colombo Town Hall yesterday.
The Prime Minister said the peace process the new UNF government had
launched would safeguard the territorial integrity of Sri Lanka while recognising
rights and aspirations of all its citizens.
"We know that there are people and groups who hold different views about
this road. We will talk to them so that the solution would be acceptable
to all," Mr. Wickremesinghe said.
Recalling violent protests against the Indo-Sri Lanka accord in 1997,
the Prime Minister warned that his government would not allow those who
opposed the peace initiative to set this country on fire again.
"Seven years ago, when I took over the post of Leader of the party,
it was restricted to only a name board. I came before you at the 1994 convention
and gave you a pledge that we would win. I was able to transform this party
to a party capable of forming a government.
"But I must say that now I have been given a country limited to a name
board. As I strived to develop the party, I assure you that the UNF would
strive even harder to develop this country," Mr. Wickremesinghe said adding
that the task of resurrecting a country with a negative growth rate was
the toughest challenge he faced.
Move to gain access backfires
Wheeler dealers, not to mention those arms dealers who amassed billions
in collusion with their uniformed buddies during the People's Alliance
regime, appear to be back in business with the advent of the United National
Among those in the frontline is one who has had unimpeded access to
the higher echelons of the defence establishments. Once dubbed as " kommis
kakka" by President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, the big boss made
his presence felt at a glittering party at the Colombo Hilton on December
The occasion was to felicitate late Gamini Atukorale, when he became
Minister of Transport, Highways and Civil Aviation.
"How did he gain entry into this party?" asked Mr. Atukorale in his
"He had access to the people who organised this party," responded a
"Probably, he is footing the bill," another commented. "I have to be
careful about these fellows," Mr. Atukorale is reported to have said in
his inimitable style.
On December 31, this arms dealer hosted a party with a musical extravaganza
at his Borella residence, with the invitees being some government heavy
-weights. The previous day (December 30), the lavish entertainer par excellence
was pleading with one of the close associates of the Prime Minister, who
was holidaying with him at Diyatalawa, to grace this occasion. Frantic
calls were made to PM's close friend asking him to attend the 31st night
Having continued this party until the wee hours of the morning, he held
another grand party with loud music for the kids of certain higher ups
in Colombo, on Saturday, January 5. The revelry began just as fires from
the funeral pyre of late Mr. Atukorale were rising into the sky at Seevali
This extravaganza with loud music in his specially built permanent open-air
pavilion created much nuisance to his neighbours who had several sleepless
nights because of the several parties held previously. At 3 in the morning,
when a much-affected neighbour sent the Police Emergency car to stop this
over-loud music, they were politely told that sons and daughters of so-and
-so were here.
In another attempt at 3 in the morning, Borella police also sent their
Patrol vehicle with a plea to stop this loud music — but in vain.