Sri Lanka’s new president calls for all-party government – Update II

EconomyNext – Sri Lanka’s new President Maithripala Sirisena Saturday appealed to all parties in parliament to join him to form an all-party national government and pledged to work towards building a just society free of bribery and corruption.

Sirisena said his new government would work towards achieving a political, economic, social and cultural transformation of the country where people with different ethnic and religious identities could live together in peace.

"I am you servant," Sirisena said in an address to the nation televised nationally from the ‘Sri Dalada Maligawa’ or Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, a key Buddhist temple in the central hill country city of Kandy.

"This country does not need a king but a human being," he added, in an apparent reference to the rule former president Mahinda Rajapaksa whom he ousted in the January 8 presidential poll.

Rajapaksa, who ruled for almost 10 years, lost popularity in recent years amid accusations of intolerance, nepotism, abuse of power and widespread corruption.

Sirisena said one of his government’s priorities would be to reduce the cost of living and eradicate poverty.

"We want to build a strong and prosperous economy. As an agricultural country, we must strengthen the farming economy. We will take steps to modernise our agricultural economy and lay a strong foundation for economic growth."

Sirisena said he wants Sri Lanka to be a country without political or religious divisions and that he would restore good governance and law and order and strengthen democracy.

"I appeal to all parties in parliament to get together with us to form an all-party, national government. I hope all parties will accept my invitation so that we can work on our 100-day programme."

Under the 100-day programm, Sirisena has pledged to reduce presidential powers and take action to restore the independence of institutions like the police, judiciary and public service.

He said he would do away with the "unlimited powers" of the present executive presidency.

"One of our duties is to restore an independent and impartial public service, including the police."

"We will take all steps to eradicate bribery, corruption and fraud prevailing in the country and take all measures to build a free and just society."