COLOMBO, Reuter: Sri Lanka on Wednesday ended the State of emergency that has existed over the whole island for more: than 5 1/2 years.

But the killing of two candidates for next month’s general elections, ‘one of them a senior official of the main opposition freedom party, was a reminders that political violence has not been entirely stamped out in the Indian Ocean Republic,

A proclamation signed by President, Ranasinghe Premadasa announced the ending of the emergency from midnight (1830 GMT) on Wednesday. A Defense Ministry statement said that in making this decision, the President had “taken into account the improving security situation.”

Since Premadasa’s election on December 19, Guerrilla violence has sharply diminished.

But attackers struck on Tuesday with guns and bombs in the seaside town of Wadduwa, only 35 km (25 miles) south of Colombo, killing Indrapala Abeyweera, assistant secretary of the Freedom Party, and Wijeyalal Mendis, and both candidates in the February 15 election. Abeyweera’s bodyguard also died.

No group has claimed responsibility but police said the murders were clearly political.

The emergency regulations, which gave security forces virtually unlimited powers, had been renewed month by month since their introduction in May 1983.

The statement said further extension would have meant recalling parliament, which has already been dissolved in preparation for the elections,

“However, it is not (Premadasa’s) intention at present to resummons the dissolved parliament,” the statement said.

Foreshadowing the ending of the emergency last week, the President also vowed not to reintroduce it.

The return to normal legality means that suspects must be produced before a magistrate within 24 hours instead of up to 30 days and that the army will return to barracks. But troops could still be called out for limited operations if needed.

In recent weeks, the Tamil separatist rebellion in the north and east has been largely contained by an Indian task force, the first battalions of which went home last weekend,

All the major Tamil groups except the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam have joined the political process and said they would contest the elections.

In South and Central areas, the Marxist People’s Liberation Front (JVP), which killed more than 600 people in the past year, has also remained quiet since the Presidential election.

Article extracted from this publication >>  January 20, 1989