Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Sunday vowed to achieve reconciliation in the country, even as former strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa warned the government against any steps endangering the unitary character of the state. Both Sirisena and Wickremesinghe renewed hope for reconciliation and economic development to be achieved by the unity government which marks its second anniversary next week.
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Sirisena in his new year message called for brotherhood and unity among all communities to achieve reconciliation following the end of the nearly three decades-long civil war in 2009. Wickremesinghe said despite efforts to break up the national unity government, it would not waver in its commitment to install good governance, democracy and economic prosperity.
Former President Rajapaksa, in his New Year message, warned against any action that endangers the unitary character of the state and its territorial integrity.His remarks were in reference to the government’s efforts to introduce a new Constitution which is expected to grant some form of political autonomy to the minority Tamil community.
The new Constitution is expected to be adopted this year after a nationwide referendum. The main opposition leader R Sampanthan echoed the Tamil wishes in his message, saying “2017 will be a crucial year in the history of our country”.
“Our expectation, is that we should find a permanent and lasting solution to the national question. The new Constitution in the New Year, should bring about this achievement,” he said. The government expects the new Constitution to address the demand of Tamil minorities for political recognition.
With the defeat of the Tamil Tigers in 2009 the Tamil groups have opted for maximum devolution as opposed to LTTE’s goal of a separate Tamil homeland.