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President Mahinda Rajapaska says that the Tamil National Alliance cannot ask for the army to be withdrawn from the Northern Province and that presence of the military is required to maintain security within the country.

“If the other Provincial Councils also ask me to their army camps from all over the country, where can I have the army? Is somebody else going to give me a place to keep the army?” he inquired, responding to a question during an interview with Al Jazeera.

“We decide on our security and the strength and how many army personnel we need,” he said.

Clarifying on the comments made by him, while addressing the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), that the “world needs no policing by a few states,” Rajapaksa stated that some states think that they are the “police” of the world and that they attempt to exert pressure on other nations.

Asked whether he was referring to Western countries or Sri Lanka’s closest neighbor India, which had used its vote against the island nation on resolutions adopted at the UN Human Rights Commission, the President responded: “we have a very close relationship with India, because they are our neighbor. But they have their own political issues. We understand their issues.”

On the latest criticisms by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay that Sri Lanka is heading in an “increasingly authoritarian direction,” President Rajapaksa stated that he does not understand why she would make such allegations when Sri Lanka has had around 19 elections within the past 5 years.

“It’s up to the people to decide on governments,” he said.

The President also completely rejected the UN human rights chief’s accusations that “surveillance and harassment” is getting worse in Sri Lanka and that critical voices are either attacked or permanently silenced.

He stated that unlike in a dictatorial country, Sri Lanka has an opposition which has different views and that the opposition is always attempting to defeat the government, be it with the international community or within the country.

Rajapaksa stated that the people of Sri Lanka are of the opinion that Navi Pillay had already prepared her report before visiting Sri Lanka and that he had conveyed this to her when they met late last month.

“But when she met me she did not complain about anything,” he said.

When inquired on the falsest made by members of the government during her visit and that some of them had referred to her as the “Tamil Tigress of the UN,” President Rajapaksa stated that Sri Lanka is a democratic country and that they can say anything they want.

He stated that the Sri Lankan Cabinet consists of 58 persons from various political and religious backgrounds working together. “I have to manage them. But individual MPs, Ministers or officials - they can say anything they want.”

He stated that the election results itself answers the questions of heavy presence and influence of the military in the North during the election period, military support for particular candidates and the intimidation of candidates, parties and supporters.

President Rajapaksa said that he knew that his party was going to lose the election in the Northern Province and that he even told the TNA leader that, “we are going to give you the election. You will win. We know our results.”

He stated that the UPFA wanted the TNA to win the Northern Provincial Council and to take the responsibility. “Because anybody can criticize. Let them deliver now.”

President stated that when some ambassadors had asked him about the election in the North he had predicted that the ruling alliance would obtain between 7-10 seats in the Provincial Council. “I was wrong because we only got seven.”