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* Sri Lanka election results open way for President to unify the country, U.S. official says
Tue, Apr 13, 2010, 12:53 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.


Sri Lankan government will probably get the two-third majority - Blake

Apr 13, Colombo: The results of the Sri Lanka parliamentary elections held last week should really open the way for President Mahinda Rajapaksa to take important action to unify the country and get it back on a path of growth, a high ranking U.S. official said

The Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert Blake made these remarks in response to a question on Sri Lanka elections during a media briefing to discuss his upcoming trip to Kyrgyzstan, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan.

Blake, former U.S. Ambassador to Colombo, said the Sri Lankan government now has an important opportunity to make progress on the issues of reconciliation, power sharing, and accountability.

The Assistant Secretary noted that the hard-line Sinhalese nationalist parties, Democratic National Alliance and the monk party Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) experienced a significant loss in the elections.

"I think that's a quite telling and important result because these particular parties had opposed any kind of power sharing with the Tamils and with the Muslims," he said.

Blake pointed out that the Sri Lankan government has a very significant majority and expressed confidence that it will get the two-third majority it needed to change the Constitution.

"They probably will be able to get a two-thirds majority when all the dust is settled. And again, that gives them the power to amend the constitution and proceed with a lot of these steps that I've just described. So we do think this is an important opportunity that should be seized," he said.

When questioned about the humanitarian aid to Sri Lanka, Secretary Blake said he believes the United States has been the leading donor of humanitarian assistance to the North.

He said the U.S. is proud of the steps it has taken to provide food assistance primarily to the displaced Tamils in the North, and will continue to provide that assistance.

However, he said the need is to restore the political rights of the displaced and the Sri Lankan government is taking measures in that direction and planning to hold elections for the Northern Provincial Council later this year.

Secretary Blake emphasizing on the reconciliation process said the government needs to take steps towards reconciliation, an important part of which would be steps on accountability.

"The Tamils in particular have suffered a great deal from some of the human rights abuses of the last few years, so we believe it's very important for that to be part of the reconciliation process that will occur," he stressed.


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