Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena on Thursday appealed to the Joint Opposition led by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, not to thwart the constitution-making and ethnic reconciliation processes by indulging false propaganda because if the current chance to solve the national problem is missed due to narrow minded jockeying for power, the country will only return to conflict and bloodshed.
In a powerful speech in parliament, Sirisena said that the Rajapaksa-led opposition is under the mistaken notion that they can come to power by indulging in false propaganda about the constitution-making process and the status of Buddhism. They complain to the Buddhist monks that the new constitution will wreck the unity of the country and downgrade Buddhism, when the government’s plans are anything but that.
The President warned that the opposition’s tactics will only create a situation in which they will not be able realize their dream of coming to power.
He recalled that it was the narrow-minded nationalists of the past who had taken the country to war and destruction by using various techniques, including drafting Buddhist monks in their campaigns. Many Sri Lankans had had to flee the country to take refuge abroad. For Sri Lanka, this is a shameful thing. Such a thing should not be allowed to happen again, the President said.
The ethnic question will have to be solved now, and not left to future generations. It will be anti-national to leave it to the next generation, the President said. He said anybody trying to thwart a settlement now is anti-national.
Sirisena further said that he is not looking for political heroes but heroes who would stick their necks out for solving the national question here and now. In this context he praised the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) leader R.Sampanthan who is also the official Leader of the Opposition, saying that he is the best Tamil leader after A.Amirthalingam.
Lambasting former President Rajapaksa for changing his stance to meet political exigencies, Sirisena recalled that when Rajapaksa was in power, he had promised to the international community that he would go beyond the 13 th.Amendment to devolve power to the Tamil-speaking provinces, but now, out of power and wanting to come to power, he is saying something quite contrary.
The President appealed to those who oppose any action in favor of the minority Tamils to visit the war-affected Northern Province and see the destruction of life wrought by war for themselves. To those who oppose the return of lands to the Tamils, he said that the Tamils are only asking for lands which belonged to them. People who oppose this demand will realize its justness only if they themselves have lost their lands, the President said.
Sirisena said that unity across caste, ethnic, religious and regional differences will have to be established to frame a constitution which will meet the needs and aspirations of all Sri Lankans. This is a must for the constitution to be approved in a referendum, he said.
Courtesy: New Indian Express