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Sri Lankan president calls for national unity

EconomyNext – Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena called for national unity in his Independence Day speech, saying the country had still not united the peoples of the north and south despite winning the war against Tamil Tiger separatists.

He also said his new government would work towards reducing glaring income disparities and strengthen the national economy.

Sirisena said although the country was physically united with the end of the war, minority Tamil people and the majority Sinhalese in the north and south remain divided and need to win each other’s hearts and minds.

The 30-year ethnic war ended in May 2009.

"After the war ended, although we achieved peace and accelerated economic growth, we failed to unite the people of the north and south," said Sirisena who ousted former strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa in the January 8 presidential poll.

"Our greatest challenge today is to unite the peoples of the north and south and achieve consensus and national unity," Sirisena declared.

Another big challenge that needs to be addressed is the increasing income disparity and poverty in the country.

The new government remains committed to implement reforms and create a just, new society, Sirisena said.

It would also strengthen the national economy and modernise agriculture with new technology and depoliticise and strengthen the public service.

The government will also strengthen its foreign policy and pursue a policy of non-alignment in its foreign relations and win international support according to the rules of the United Nations, he said.

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