President Rajapaksa tells the media:
‘I alone can abolish executive presidency; I alone need to do so’
Constitution could be changed either by democratic govt. or military regime

*‘I wanted to let N&E people elect President’
*Govt. contemplates constitutional reforms
*President should be responsible to Parliament
*Report on attacks on media expected
*‘Pistol gangs’ on the prowl will be tracked down
*Action taken to curb election violence

President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday told heads of media institutions and newspaper editors that he alone could abolish the executive presidency and he alone had a genuine desire to do so during his second term. His government was contemplating constitutional reforms and he personally believed the Executive President should be responsible to Parliament, the President said.

People of the northern and eastern parts of the country had been prevented from exercising their franchise at the last presidential election in 2005 by the LTTE and he wanted to give them an opportunity to elect their leader, President Rajapaksa said. "Therefore, I came forward to face an election two years before the expiry of my first term," he said, "that is something not even the president of a Death Donation Society is willing to do."

Senior Presidential Advisor Basil Rajapaksa, MP, who was among the government politicians and officials flanking President Rajapaksa at yesterday’s media briefing at Temple Trees, said that IDPs would be eligible for voting at the next presidential election.

Pointing out that the making of a new Constitution required a two thirds majority in Parliament, a smiling President firing a broadside at his rivals without naming names; he said a Constitution could be changed either by a democratic government or by a military government.

The country needed political stability to achieve progress and politicians must not succumb to external pressure or the lure of money.When it was pointed out that there had already occurred several incidents of political violence even before the presidential election was officially announced,

President Rajapaksa said he was concerned about them. However, he said, some incidents had to do with intra-party rivalries rather than inter party disputes. As an example, he cited a recent incident in Colombo North, where a UNP MP had been booed off the stage allegedly by a group of dissidents.

"I will ensure that there will be no violence," President Rajapaksa said, "I will see to it that no pistol gangs roam the country."

He said the Opposition had embraced someone whom it had been blaming for violence, and was now hailing him as the saviour of democracy. "Kanna oneunama kabaragoya thalgoya wenawa," the President said—‘when one feels like eating a water monitor, it becomes a land monitor’.

Answering a question what had become of the probes into attacks on media personnel and the killing of Lasantha Wickremetunga, President Rajapaksa said investigations were continuing but no breakthrough had yet been made. "I have called for a report from the investigators on the progress of the probes and you will be kept informed," he said.

Commenting on the JVP’s position that it was illegal to conduct another presidential election, President Rajapaksa said, if so, the JVP could always invoke the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court against his decision.

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