Somawansa returns to lead polls campaign

By Shamindra Ferdinando
Self-exiled JVP leader Somawansa Amarasinghe yesterday returned from London to lead their polls campaign. Amarasinghe will address a public rally at Kalutara today in support of JVP candidates contesting the district. He is also scheduled to speak at several other meetings in the run up to the December 5 poll.

Emirates flight 607 EK carrying Amarasinghe touched down at the BIA around 9 am yesterday, an airport official said adding that JVP General Secretary Tilvin Silva and ex-MPs, Wimal Weerawansa and Anura Dissanayake were there to welcome the leader. "Amarasinghe came alone," the official said.

Amarasinghe, believed to be the seniormost JVP’er to survive the bloody security forces crackdown, fled the country in late 1989 when most of the JVP hierarchy were killed.

Minister Mangala Samaraweera is on record as saying that there was "an understanding" between the two parties that the September 5, 2001 MoU would continue to be in place even after the election. Samaraweera talked of the prospects of continuing with the MoU less than 48 hours after President Kumaratunga was forced to dissolve parliament to avoid the UNP-led no-trust motion against her government. President Kumaratunga echoed Minister Samaraweera’s sentiments when she released the PA manifesto to the media last week.

Ex- MP Nandana Gunatilake yesterday said that the leader would address the Kalutara public rally today. It would be his first public rally since the proscription of the party by the UNP in 1983, Gunatilake said expressing the belief that Amarasinghe’s entry would further strengthen their campaign.

Responding to questions, he said that police would provide security to the meeting. The JVP recently requested the IGP to provide security to their meetings in view of security threats. The request was made when Tilvin Silva met with the IGP.

Gunatilake expressed confidence that they would get adequate security.

Responding to further questions, Wimal Weerawansa said that they have not asked for special security for their leader.

Meanwhile, the STF yesterday said that units have been deployed to provide security to Anura Bandaranaike, M.L.M.Hisbullah, S. Ganeshamoorthy, Mrs Ferial Ashraff and D.M. Dassanayake. Bandaranaike contests the Gampaha district, Hisbullah and Ganeshamoorthy contest Batticaloa, Mrs Ashraff contests Ampara while Dassanayake contests Puttalam.

A senior spokesman said that police commandos would not be deployed along with regular police to carry out normal polls related security duties.

Earlier Ministers G.L.Peiris and Rauff Hakeem too received bodyguards from the elite para-military wing of the police department. Kadirgamar who received ‘STF protection’ later obtained bodyguards from the Special Forces Regiment.