President calls on all parties to help achieve peace

[February 4, 2006 - 3.30 GMT]

President Mahinda Rajapaksa addressing the nation on the 58th anniversary of Sri Lanka's independence today, made an open appeal to the main opposition and all political parties to support him in his efforts to bring an end to the ethnic conflict and achieve peace in Sri Lanka.

Addressing a large gathering at Colombo's Galle Face Green where the first Independence Day armed forces parade was held in 1948, the President said: "On this very special occasion, I wish with great honesty to make an open appeal to the main opposition party and all other political parties and movements to extend their support to us in carrying out this task. I invite all of you to set aside whatever narrow debates and divisions there may be, and be united and come together with a singular determination to overcome this challenge that has evaded solution for half a century, because in the national agenda "country" should be ahead of all other issues."

He said the first among many challenges facing the country was that of finding a solution to the national issue that remains unresolved through many years and achieve a genuine and sustainable peace.

Referring to the search for peace, he said there was one pre-condition to achieve success.  "It is that we should be united to achieve these high and daunting goals. Many efforts made in the past to achieve peace have failed. However, there is no benefit achieved in blaming the past. We should not forget the past, but instead learn from the lessons of the past. There is, therefore, the need to establish a structure of State to bring about the genuine participation of all sections of our people in development activities the administration of government.

President Rajapaksa said: "The activities for peace can move forward only by a full understanding of the lessons to be drawn from the mistakes and misleading of the past. This country is one that belongs to all Sinhalese, Tamil, Muslim, Burgher and other peoples to whom this is home. We cannot solve this problem by dividing this country. That will only lead to aggravating the crisis. That is why we came out with the slogan "Towards a New Sri Lanka". Although in the political theme in the recent election, it should now be the theme of the country and nation. In order to overcome all subjugation and build a new free and independent country our thinking and aspirations should be new. Our goals should be new and the manner in which we work should also be new."

(Full text of President's address)

The address by His Excellency Mahinda Rajapaksa, President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, at the ceremonial commemoration of the 58th anniversary of independence
on February, 04, 2006


Most Venerable Members of the Maha Sangha
Respected members of the clergy of other religions
Hon. Prime Minister, Hon. Speaker
Hon. Chief Justice
Hon. Leader of the Opposition
Hon. Ministers and Members of Parliament
Your Excellencies from the Diplomatic Missions
Commanders of the Armed Forces and the Inspector General of Police
Members of the armed forces and the police
Distinguished guests
My dear brothers and sisters,

I must first offer my thanks to all those responsible for making it possible, after 20 years, to conduct this 58th anniversary celebrations of independence for Sri Lanka at the Galle Face Green with such grandeur and pride. What we first intend doing by conducting this event with such grandeur is to pay a tribute to our revered motherland that was freed from the shackles of colonialism with the dawn of independence on February 4, 1948. We next wish to pay our tribute to those national heroes who struggled for our independence in many diverse ways.

The fact that we as a nation lay claim to a civilization that is unique to us needs no restatement. It is for this very reason that from as far back as 250 BC, as a country we faced the pressures of foreign invasion and
intrusion. For a lengthy period of nearly 500 years we were colonized by western powers.

However, with long struggles and dedicated service and sacrifice of the lives of many of our heroes in these freedom struggles we obtained independence in 1948. However, we must not forget that this was transformed
into a genuine and complete freedom only with the proclamation of the first Republican Constitution in 1972, when Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike was Prime Minister, and I too made by own contribution towards it as the youngest member of the Constituent Assembly that drafted the Republican Constitution. For whatever reason, it is unfortunate that all of us have for so long forgotten to celebrate that great Republic Day. It should not be so.

Whatever the manner we obtained independence in 1948, I do not believe that in the period since the obtaining of independence we have been able to use all our strengths and resources to best effect to justify the struggles that went before. However, I state with pride that we have on no occasion fled in the face of challenges. The true story that stands out in our history is that on every occasion when we were united we emerged victorious. We are by nature a peaceful nation and people. The culture of our lives has been nourished by the teachings of Buddhism, Hinduism, and other religions that flourish in our land, and whenever there were challenges before us we faced them with courage.

All countries, including ours, which gained independence after a long period of colonial subjugation, were faced with a range of the same type of social, economic, and political challenges. The great expectation of all those national heroes, national leaders, and pathfinders to freedom who dedicated themselves and carried out a variety of struggles to gain independence to all these countries, was to overcome subjugation in all its forms among the people, make way for the emergence of free citizens and build a state that comprised such free and independent citizens. Whatever freedom we have inherited today as a free country and nation, the honour for it belongs to those great leaders who even with the sacrifice of their lives handed down to us a heritage of freedom. Therefore, I consider it as our very special responsibility on this occasion, to remember them all with great respect.

In the latter half of the 19th Century and the first half of the 20th Century a national movement emerged that sought to obtain freedom to our country. There were many facets to this national freedom movement. It carried on a struggle to obtain an independent country and a democratic system of government through constitutional reforms. A number of our national leaders carried on this movement for national independence paying no heed to differences of race, religion of political belief. The movement for national independence also emerged in the form of a movement for religious revival. Our Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim and other national leaders toiled hard to build a sense of national feeling, pride and patriotism among the peoples of all races and religions in our country. They also worked tirelessly to plant the seeds of peaceful coexistence among our people based on the core values of religion.

Those who carried on a struggle to build a more just and equitable society from the Left Movement,  the Working Class Movement and the "Suriya Mal" Movement merged with the broader national freedom movement.

In the fields of language, literature and culture too there were many who played a significant role towards the goal of a free and independent nation, whose names will always be treasured by us all.

I also recall here the poets of the Colombo Era, and many other distinguished personalities who worked with great dedication in a commitment to take our country forward. In addition, we are all aware that there were many among your parents and mine, who without any publicity or fanfare, worked hard in various fronts and movements with the fervent wish of achieving freedom for our country.  To all of them we extend our highest tribute and honour on this proud occasion.

My dear friends, many are the gains that we have won through freedom. We should not underestimate them. With the Freedom of 1948 what we obtained was a free, independent state that was based on the sovereignty of the people expressed through universal suffrage. Despite whatever shortcomings, the fact that we have been able to continue with a free and democratic state for more than half a century is indeed a victory for us Sri Lankans. The success of our educational system enabled us to build a society with a
high level of literacy. The improvements in our health services brought many benefits and achievements to our people.  Although there is conflict due to various political challenges before us today, overall the spirit of
cooperation and understanding has been preserved at a high level among the various ethnic and religious communities of our land. This City of Colombo where we celebrate this anniversary of independence is a good example of such coexistence and diversity.

However, my dear friends, it is important to realize that breaking the shackles of subjugation in a country or society is not confined to winning freedom from colonial rule. It is necessary for the life of the citizen to be also freed from all forms of subjugation. The State should always be one that is free of subjugation in every form.  In considering all these, I wish to state that here that we do have many challenges to be resolved and overcome.

The first among these challenges is that of finding a solution to the national issue that remains unresolved through many years and achieve a genuine and sustainable peace. Similarly, there are also many other challenges such as the need to strengthen our economy, achieve political stability, and use our human resources to best effect for the advancement of our country. I strongly believe that we can successfully face up to all these challenges and achieve success for our country. However, there is one pre-condition to achieve this success.  It is that we should be united to
achieve these high and daunting goals. Many efforts made in the past to achieve peace have failed. However, there is no benefit achieved in blaming the past. We should not forget the past, but instead learn from the lessons of the past. There is, therefore, the need to establish a structure of State to bring about the genuine participation of all sections of our people in development activities the administration of government.

At the recent President Election the majority of the people endorsed the need to forge a common understanding among the political parties and forces in the South, taking into consideration the aspirations of all our people. We are now implementing what the people endorsed. In a few days our government will begin discussions with the LTTE. We began the search for a southern consensus by separate talks with political parties and through the All Party Conference. I am already aware that this approach has been successful. I am not politically selfish as to claim the benefits of this success for myself. This success should be shared equally among the Government and all those of the Opposition who participated in this effort.

This activity can move forward only by a full understanding of the lessons to be drawn from the mistakes and misleading of the past. This country is one that belongs to all Sinhalese, Tamil, Muslim, Burgher and other peoples to whom this is home. We cannot solve this problem by dividing this country. That will only lead to aggravating the crisis. That is why we came out with the slogan "Towards a New Sri Lanka". Although in the political theme in the recent election, it should now be the theme of the country and nation. In order to overcome all subjugation and build a new free and independent country our thinking and aspirations should be new. Our goals should be new and the manner in which we work should also be new.

Honoured friends, we should bear well in our minds that if we are to stop the increasing flow of blood through war we should shed more and more sweat in the cause of peace.

The new peace process that we launch for a New Sri Lanka shall in all ways be a transparent process. There is nothing to hide in it. We are not preparing to forcibly bring about a solution. Similarly, we shall not be frightened by threats from any quarter. Our aim is to bring about a national consensus from a solution that is brought about by broad and deep discussion. Therefore, on this very special occasion, I wish to make an open appeal with great honesty to the main opposition party and all other political parties and movements to extend their support to us in carrying out this task. I invite all of you to set aside whatever narrow debates and divisions there may be, and be united and come together with a singular determination to overcome this challenge that has evaded solution for half a century, because in the national agenda "country" should be ahead of all other issues.

We have also given priority towards restructuring the economy so as to enable all the people of the country to share the dividends of economic growth; building of a disciplined and law abiding society through the highest respect for the Rule of Law; and by this means build a country that is best suited for our children to grow up in. I have already launched the campaign to save our future generation from the menace of drugs. My government and I have the strength and courage to take whatever steps that necessary to see the establishment of a civilized and disciplined Sri Lankan society.

I am prepared to face challenges on behalf of the future of this country, to change the popular trend that has enabled people who are lavish with money to see that the institutions of the law are misused in their favour and interests. Similarly, whether in the North or South, I wish to state that I will act to protect human rights and values, as a person who has been dedicated to the cause of human rights for 35 years.

My request to all the friends of Sri Lanka living abroad and all countries friendly to Sri Lanka, is to extend the cooperation necessary to help maintain the peace and dignity of this free and independent country named Sri Lanka, located in the Indian Ocean, that has an Asian civilization running back through many centuries and whose people are the inheritors of such a rich culture.

We have launched a development programme that works in tandem with the peace process to help rebuild and restore the livelihoods of people battered by war and ravages of the Tsunami. We expect to launch a special programme of national integration this year to build greater amity and trust among our people.

My dear friends, my principles of governance are those of good governance; responsible governance; the Rule of Law, and righteous governance. It is my belief that in our country that has now passed more than half a century since independence, what is necessary to gain victory over the immense challenges before us, is a system of governance based on what is righteous. I believe that this will help our citizens to work towards the genuine advance of our country without any doubts or fears. It will also lead to the building of a polity that eschews narrow debates and divisions and encourages genuine development. On this important occasion I wish to once again place before you the need to forge the bonds of a united society that has come together to build a New Sri Lanka.

It is we who can bring the real glory to our National Flag that flutters in the air and the National Anthem whose strains we hear in the wind. I am not willing to hand this responsibility to our next generation. However difficult it may be, with whatever means, it is my determination to face up to these main challenges and achieve victory.

Yes! I shall definitely carry out this task. What I ask of my people who love this blessed land is to extend to me your great strength that is required for this.

"Freedom" is the path to the greatest victories to a nation. "Freedom" is to safeguard and defend the victories achieved. Therefore, on this path of freedom let us work together to achieve success and victory! Let us achieve victory with dedication! Let us join our hands in unity to offer to our revered motherland the victories she deserves!

I wish you all success in the future!

May you be blessed by the Triple Gem!



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 PRINT THIS STORY

 

Contact Information: Send mail to gosl@presidentsl.org with questions or comments about this web site. 
Last Updated Date: February 4, 2006 - 3.30 GMT

 
 


Today's Stories

 

President calls on all parties to help achieve peace