By Gagani Weerakoon
Resettling the remaining Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and holding elections in the North are essential to stabilizing democracy in the region, the visiting delegation of Consular Corps of London (CCL) emphasized.
Speaking to Ceylon Today following a press briefing in Colombo, executive member of CCL, Bernard Silver praised the government on its rapid reconstruction and rehabilitation activities carried out within three years in the war-torn areas.
“We also witnessed efforts by the government to have reconciliation among people in the country. What matters more is not the reconstruction or reconciliation, but stabilizing democracy through elections. Until elections are held with the representatives elected through democratic means, a fully-fledged normalcy cannot be expected,” he said.
Silver, who is the Consul General for the Republic of Seychells, added, “Political changes cannot be brought through violence, but could be made through elections.
“People who cry for separatism and express views in support of the LTTE should also understand the importance of democracy. We were very happy to see the rebuilt Jaffna Library and the shelves with books arranged there. Burning of books is somewhat similar to burning of people, and likewise, reconstruction and replacement of the Jaffna Library and bringing back the books, there is a strong evidence of government’s commitment towards reconciliation,” he added.
Silver also noted the delegation believed the government is having a fair chance of holding free and fair elections.
“Sri Lanka has a tremendous chance of emerging as a tourist hotspot in the world and especially in the North and East, there are unspoilt resources to be explored in the longer run, with newly dawned peace after 30 years of war,” he added.
Expressing his views on IDP camps, Silver said: “You cannot expect them to be in the level of five-star hotels, but the situation is not totally pathetic. We are optimistic that the remaining IDPs will also be resettled soon.”
He also noted that even though there is an excessive amount of military presence in the North, it is as not as disturbing as they expected.
“I have been to conflict hit areas in the world and areas with heavy military presence. That atmosphere is highly disturbing. However, I did not feel that uneasiness or nervousness in the North. Maybe because the soldiers on the roads and towns were all seems to be very friendly,” he said.
The Consular Corps of London was established in 1902 as an association of all Consuls General and consular officers, both career and honorary, working in London.