President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s address to the UN General Assembly was short, simple and dignified. The president covered the main issues that confront the world with his focus on Sri Lanka. These included the Covid pandemic, economic difficulties, environmental degradation and violence that are global problems and which his government, which received two democratic mandates, has had to face.
In his speech in New York, the president sought international assistance to overcome the setbacks in the economic situation in the country. He also pledged to address the core issues that had given rise to violence through internal mechanisms that would address issues of accountability, restorative justice and reconciliation. The National Peace Council welcomes the president’s statement that it is his “Government’s firm intention to build a prosperous, stable and secure future for all Sri Lankans, regardless of ethnicity, religion, or gender. We are ready to engage with all domestic stakeholders, and to obtain the support of our international partners and the United Nations, in this process.” He has also invited the Diaspora to dialogue in the process.
We urge the president to take action in society necessary for national reconciliation. There is a need to overcome the cynicism and mistrust that has grown due to the many lost opportunities and unmet promises. As immediate actions we would urge the release of long term and short term prisoners held without trial under the PTA. and facilitate truth seeking and reparation in the process of addressing the issue of missing persons as well as the Easter bombing. We would also urge the government to obtain UN assistance and that of international personnel to improve the internal mechanisms already established and work together on ones to come.
The president’s intention to deal with contentious issues requires the support of the parties in the opposition especially the minority parties which have democratic mandates with them and we call on them to accept the invitation that the president extends. As the meeting with the TNA has been on hold for long the onus is on the president to give priority to that meeting. The already established reconciliation mechanisms need to be activated and efficiently managed for trust building of the people. We believe it is possible to overcome the country’s challenges of peace, justice and development with the involvement of all stakeholders including the UN and international community.
National Peace Council of Sri Lanka