Sri Lanka President push reconciliation in New Year
ECONOMYNEXT – President Maithripala Sirisena has urged Sri Lankans to use the traditional New Year as a turning point to usher ethnic reconciliation and ensure peaceful co-existence.
Sirisena, who came to power on a pledge to ensure accountability for war crimes said to have been committed under his predecessor, said the new year shared by both the Sinhalese and Tamil communities should help unite them.
"The intention of the whole range of ‘Avrudu (new year)’ customs, marked in line with the transition of the sun, is the formation of a man free from regressive thinking and menial attitudes," he said.
He urged all Sri Lankans to "build a country where reconciliation and co-existence are given pride of place, while making the victories achieved more meaningful."
Sirisena angered his supporters in October by criticising the arrest of rogue elements within military intelligence who are accused of carrying out killings of political opponents of the Rajapaksa regime, as well as independent journalists.
However, last month, the president moved to win back his support by qualifying that he was not prepared to protect any member of the military of the police who has carried out murders under the guise of fighting terrorism.
He has also signalled the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the police to carry out high profile arrests of those responsible for ordering the killing of senior editor Lasantha Wickrematunga and several others.
Former defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, who is accused of ordering the assassination of Wickrematunga in January 2009, has left the country on a previously unannounced study course.
Rajapaksa has reportedly gone to Singapore. The Mount Lavinia magistrate was told by the CID in a B report on March 20 that Rajapaksa was responsible for intelligence, security and military operations in Colombo at the time Wickrematunga was killed.
Rajapaksa’s then army chief Sararth Fonseka has told the CID that a killer squad operated under Chief of National Intelligence (CNI) Kapila Hendavitharana. The then CNI took his orders directly from Rajapaksa and Fonseka had nothing to do with the killer squad, the CID was told according to papers filed in court. (COLOMBO, April 11, 2017)