COLOMBO: Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has dubbed those “opportunistic forces” which are campaigning against the on-going ethnic and religious reconciliation process as enemies of the country.
“The government’s endeavor for reconciliation and communal harmony has been praised locally as well as internationally. The opportunistic forces that are against the on-going reconciliation process are against the country,” the President said in his address to the nation at the 69 th.Independence Day military parade here on Saturday.
“We are a nation that deserves to live a prosperous life in a country where peace and justice and equality prevail,” he added.
“There is a new meaning in today’s freedom as we are talking about a freedom that blows freely across the skies. This is an era in which human freedom, media freedom, freedom of expression, freedom of thought and freedom to gather freely blow across the skies.”
“It is the responsibility of the nation to strengthen the recently secured democratic freedom. Freedom should be enriched by indigenous wisdom, so that all communities could live with dignity, lies on our shoulders.”
“We have been able to overcome a dark era and re-illumine our aspirations for democracy, freedom, and human dignity,” the President said.
Further, arguing against the international isolation suffered during the Rajapaksa regime Sirisena said: “We have to win the confidence of the world and need its support in our endeavor.”
Sirisena’s references were to the Rajapaksa era in which post-war ethnic and religious reconciliation got a bad jolt.
Sri Lanka was consumed by militarism, triumphalism and majoritarianism. Freedoms, like the freedom of the media, suffered a crushing blow. And the country got isolated from the rest of the democratic world with the UN Human Rights Council repeatedly calling for an international inquiry into alleged war crimes.
The Joint Opposition, led by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, is now campaigning against the internationally-backed reconciliation process initiated by the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government.
Turning to economic policy Sirisena said that Sri Lanka has to combine the merits of the market economy and the merits of social democracy for ensuring equitable economic development.
Following the President’s address to the nation, which was also read in Tamil, the Independence Day parade was held with the participation of over 8,000 armed forces personnel.