Despite political turmoil, President flies to Kilinochchi
The ongoing political turmoil, which has left Sri Lanka with no functioning government for the first time since independence in 1948, did not deter President Maithripala Sirisena, from flying in a Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) VIP helicopter from Colombo to Kilinochchi.
He went there to open the sluice gates of the sprawling Iranamadu tank. The water flowing from there is said to benefit an estimated 10,000 farmers in the area. Last week, he went by helicopter to Moragahakanda to open the sluice gates there.
Until the defeat of Tiger guerrillas in May 2009, the Iranamadu tank area was a stronghold of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam ( LTTE). When the UNP gov- ernment was holding peace talks with the LTTE, the guerrilla ideologue, the late Anton Balasingham, arrived by sea plane that landed on the Iranamadu tanks. A “rest house” lay close to the sluice gates.
The sea planes were given by the then Malidivian gover nment of Pre s i d e n t Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. Immigration Department officials were flown by helicopter to seal Mr. Balasingham’s passport and later to place the departure stamp.
After opening the gates, Sirisena accompanied by his confidant Mahinda Samarasinghe and Northern Province Governor Reginal Cooray visited a village. Mothers surrounded the President, who was under tight security, to demand the whereabouts of their children. He told them that the government had appointed an Office of Missing Persons and it would go into the matter.
President Sirisena and his entourage were entertained to lunch at the Security Forces Headquarters. He later took the one and half hour return flight to Colombo.