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Pratibha, Manmohan congratulate Rajapaksa
NEW DELHI, Jan 28:
Published on 29 Jan. 2010 1:21 AM IST
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President Pratibha Patil and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday congratulated Mahinda Rajapaksa on his re-election as the President of Sri Lanka and expressed the hope that under his leadership “all communities can live in dignity and harmony” in the island nation, the Hindu. The President said she was confident that under Mr. Rajapaksa’s continued leadership, Sri Lanka would “attain greater heights and find lasting peace.” Recalling the historically close and friendly relations between the two countries, the President assured him of India’s commitment to deepen its ties with Sri Lanka. “We look forward to working with you towards this end for the mutual benefit of our two peoples,” added the President. Dr. Singh called up Mr. Rajapaksa and conveyed that New Delhi looked forward to working closely with him in his second innings. He said Mr. Rajapaksa’s success in the elections reflected the trust the people of Sri Lanka had reposed in him and wished for the continuous progress and prosperity of the “friendly people of Sri Lanka.” Meanwhile, the former diplomat, G. Parthasarathy, said there was no doubt that the majority Sinhalas regard Mr. Rajapaksa as their hero who ended the ethnic war. “There is no doubt that the ordinary Sinhalas have suffered for over three decades due to the civil war. But it remains to be seen how he can take forward his victory,” he added. Recalling that there was a section of his own party which had opposed him, Mr. Parthasarathy felt the decisive win would mean there would no longer be any challenge to his leadership within the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) if he moved ahead with devolution of powers in Tamil-dominated northern and eastern Sri Lanka. At the same time, India and the West should persuade him to move towards a political solution through continuous but quiet diplomacy, he said. The former Foreign Secretary, Kanwal Sibal, said it was time Mr. Rajapaksa addressed the most important issue of a long-term peaceful settlement and satisfaction of legitimate demands of the Tamils. “I think with a decisive victory it can work two ways. On the positive side, the win gives Mr. Rajapaksa the necessary political strength to work out a realistic agreement. A less than decisive or a shaky political victory in similar situations blocks any movement as domestically the leader gets busy managing the fallout of a poor showing at the hustings.” “On the negative side, the fear is that he may see the win as an endorsement of broadly pursuing the earlier policies and might, therefore, may not deliver what the international community might want,” added Mr. Sibal. However, with Parliamentary elections to follow, the issue was not settled yet, he cautioned.

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