President Maithripala Sirisena, who used photographs of former South African leader Nelson Mandela in advertisements throughout his election campaign and promised a similar rule, yesterday called upon all world leaders to emulate Mandela.
However, Sirisena, over three and a half years into presidency, has earned severe criticism in his own country for backtracking on the election promises and moving away from the so-called ‘Mandela policies’.
“I wonder how many of the leaders have the qualities displayed by Nelson Mandela and I feel that it is for the leaders to emulate Mandela and enter the correct path (sic),” Sirisena said, Addressing the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit held on the sidelines of the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly yesterday.
“Mandela was a leader who showed how to use power for the benefit of the people and give up power without any greed,” sirisena added.
The Plenary Session of the Mandela Peace Summit will also adopt a Political Declaration covering policing guidelines for a gamut of areas including peace, democracy, rule of law and human rights.
Sirisena made this statement just a week after he ordered the Police not to arrest his highest military commander, Chief of Defence Staff Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne, over his alleged involvement in the abductions and killings of 11 youth.
Sirisena also promised not to seek re-election upon the completion of his first team. However, he has now made it clear that he will run for presidency again in 2020.
Despite his promises to step down from presidency after five years, Sirisena also unsuccessfully sought the opinion of the Supreme Court whether he could continue in office one extra year, until 2021.