Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera said the temptation of political parties to follow a path of confrontation to achieve short term political gains over the long term interests of the people is now over.
He said no person in Sri Lanka believes that violence is a solution to the country’s burning problems.
“The desire for peace, the desire to ensure non-recurrence is clear. The people of our country, in every walk of life, the rich and the poor, those living in the North, South, East, West and Centre, desperately want peace to last. They have all suffered too much bloodshed and unimaginable agony,” he said.
Samaraweera was delivering an address at the International Institute for Middle-East and Balkan Studies (IFIMES) in Slovenia on Democracy, Reconciliation and Development: Vision for a New Sri Lanka.
Samaraweera said Sri Lanka took an unfortunate journey on an autocratic path six years since May 2009 and civil liberties were curtailed, independence of institutions including the judiciary was compromised, democracy was weakened, the rule of law was undermined, and good governance practices and human rights were violated with impunity.
“We failed to address the causes of conflict in a manner that would guarantee durable peace, meaningful reconciliation and non-recurrence. Divisions in society were becoming deeper along religious and ethnic lines, freedom of speech and expression were curtailed, and fear and intimidation pervaded society,” he said.
Samaraweera added that the nation which had been a prominent and respected member of the international community since independence, including in the United Nations, abandoned her natural foreign policy of engagement, and chose instead, to follow a policy of antagonising traditional friends and partners, and isolated itself from the world community.
The Foreign Minister added that the people of Sri Lanka reasserted their commitment to democracy by dislodging an emerging dictatorship through non-violence at the last presidential election.
“Not stopping at that, the people voted once again at the Parliamentary Election in August last year to uphold the same values and norms. Most importantly, for the first time in Sri Lanka’s history, with the support of the people we have formed a National Unity Government, bringing together the two main rival political parties in the country, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party led by President Maithripala Sirisena, and the United National Party led by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe."(Daily News)