Sri Lanka holds first post-war May Day

May 1, 2010 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s political parties were holding May Day rallies on Saturday for the first time since the ending of nearly four decades of ethnic bloodshed. Nearly a dozen meetings were scheduled in the capital and suburbs, but labour day celebrations by opposition parties were low-key following their drubbing in two major elections this year.

“We have now overcome the biggest challenge of terrorism that was faced by the country and its working people,” President Mahinda Rajapakse said in a statement.

“I recognise with due respect the great role played by the working people in this task.”

Previous May Day celebrations in Sri Lanka had been marred by attacks blamed on Tamil Tiger rebels, who were militarily crushed by security forces last year after 37 years of guerrilla war.

Suspected Tamil Tiger rebels launched a suicide bomb attack in 1993 during a ruling vparty May Day rally and assassinated then president Ranasinghe Premadasa. Opposition officials said their celebrations this year were muted as supporters recover from crushing defeats at the January presidential elections and last month’s parliamentary polls won by Rajapakse’s ruling p