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Sri Lanka needs constitution where all communities can live together: President

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka needs a constitution where all people speaking different languages or following different religions can live together in peace to build a prosperous country, President Maithripala Sirisena said.

He called upon the members of parliament, to come up with a new constitution that can take the country into the 21st century in prosperity without a recurrence of war.

He was speaking after Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe tabled a resolution in parliament Saturday to make a 225 member constitutional council and a 17 member executive committee to formulate a new constitution after seeking public views.

Sirisena said Sri Lanka could study the constitutions of countries like the US, UK, France and India where different people were living in peace.

Though a view was expressed that a 26-year civil war was ended with the help of an executive that was not a reason for it to continue.

"We need a constitution to prevent a war," he said.

In the past Sri Lanka had several opportunities to forge a united nation but they were not take he said.

Sri Lanka had to learn the lessons of 1956 (where a language freedoms of people were taken away), and two subsequent attempts by then Prime Ministers SWRD Bandaranaike and Dudley Senanayaka to come up with political packages with Tamil leaders.

If the political packages had gone ahead, Tamil Tiger leader Vellupillai Prabhakharan would not have been created he said.

Sri Lanka also had to be mindful that there was also uprisings in the south in 1971 and in 1988/89 and learn lessons, he said.

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The people in the South feared the word ‘federal’ and the people in the North feared the word ‘unitary’ which extremist elements of both sides were using for their own ends, he said.

He said though several parties had 2/3rd majorities on several occasions, the powers were not used to bring reconciliation and peace.

Sri Lanka needed a constitution which did not favour any group of people or religions and all could live in peace he said.

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