“I did not become the president to betray the jathiya and I am not ready to give in to the federal demand or devolve power in any way that might result in a fracture of the country” President Maithripala Sirisena told a gathering of Sri Lankans yesterday in Seoul, South Korea on the sidelines of an official visit to that country, President’s Media Unit said.
The word he used was ‘Jathiya’ and it is not clear if he was referring to ‘Sri Lankans’ or ‘Sinhalese’.
Sirisena said that historical mistakes should be corrected and that he was elected president to do this. He pointed out that in close to 70 years since Sri Lanka got Independence, successive governments neglected ‘the north’. He said that the majority of ministers in all post-independence Cabinets were from the Western Province and that there were no more than three from the Northern Province. Sirisena attributed the demand for separation (by Tamil nationalists) to this anomaly.
The President spoke at length about the government’s achievements and criticized unnamed opponents for misreading and misrepresenting the government’s foreign policy, in particular the UNHRC resolution co-sponsored with the USA.
“There won’t be electric chairs, international war crimes tribunals or foreign judges. That book is closed. They still bring up issues that we have already brought to a close,” Sirisena said.
“I did not obtain power to weaken the security forces or national security; my first priority was to win back the international community, which I did,” he claimed.
He also said that the government is committed to build solidarity and peace through a reconciliation programme while carrying out massive development.