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Friday, February 13, 2015 - 04.07 GMT

Be patient during transition and support new government Sri Lanka tells international community

 

Sri Lanka urged the international community including the human rights community to be patient during the "time of fragile transition" as the Government is committed to strengthening democracy, good governance and the rule of law while ensuring the promotion and protection of human rights of all citizens.

Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera addressing a full house at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, in Washington on the theme "Sri Lanka after the Presidential Election" Wednesday outlined the priorities of the new government to implement the 100-day program.

Minister Samaraweera said the government has recognized that the most important issue for the Sri Lankan polity, and the longest pending, is reconciliation, and taken steps to address the particular requirements and grievances of the people in the conflict-affected areas.

He noted that the government, within days of assuming office, appointed two very senior former civil servants as Governors in the former conflict affected Provinces of the North and the East with a view to initiating measures to strengthen civilian administration. These posts were previously held by military personnel.

The Minister pointed out that the government has commenced a series of additional measures to address the particular requirements and grievances of the people in these areas including seeking tangible solutions to the complicated issue of land ownership.

The Government has already commenced discussions on introducing a policy of progressively reducing High Security Zones in the Northern Province and releasing land to the public, he said.

The Minister apprised the audience of the measures taken by the government to cease the military involvement in civilian activities, resettlement of displaced, ensure media freedom, restore independence to government institutions, and bring constitutional reforms to establish good governance.

He said the work is already underway to repeal the controversial 18th amendment to the Constitution which removed independent appointments to Commissions and lifted term limits of the Executive President.

The Government will re-introduce provisions of the 17th amendment which will cause the establishment of the Constitutional Council that will provide for the establishment of independent Judicial Service, National Police, Public Service, Elections, Bribery and Corruption, and National Human Rights Commissions.

Speaking of relations with the United States the Sri Lankan Minister remarked that America stood by Sri Lanka in its fight against terrorism and said his first official visit to the U.S. and meeting with Secretary of State Kerry Thursday will be a first step in Sri Lanka's efforts to renew and re-engage with the U.S. for the mutual benefit of the people of both countries.

While recognizing that U.S. remains Sri Lanka's largest customer, Minister Samaraweera asked the U.S. to help Sri Lanka through increasing trade and investment as the job creation is key in alleviating the economic situation of the country.

"Encourage your entrepreneurs to capitalize on the new investment opportunities that have opened up in Sri Lanka," he said.

Increased trade and investment opportunities are important factors that will assist the reconciliation process and ensure its success that is vital for Sri Lanka's sustainable growth, peace and development, the Minister emphasized.

He urged the international community including the human rights community to be patient during the time of fragile transition.

"The Government of Sri Lanka is committed to the success of this journey of strengthening democracy, good governance and the rule of law while ensuring the promotion and protection of human rights of all her citizens," he said.

He asked the international community to remember that it is also a "sensitive process involving the participation of a multitude of political parties that are essential to ensure the success of this journey."

The Minister cautioned that there are still some extremist elements within and outside the country who, for obvious reasons, want this journey derailed.

"Therefore, I urge you to allow us time and space while supporting us in this journey of national reconciliation and healing, institution building and regaining the true Sri Lankan identity," he stressed.

 

 

 
 
   
   
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Last modified: February 13, 2015.

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