VIDEO: Can’t dictate time limit for reconciliation process – President

VIDEO: Can’t dictate time limit for reconciliation process – President

November 17, 2013   06:44 pm

Rejecting demands for an international inquiry into alleged war crimes during the final stages of the war, President Mahinda Rajapaksa today stated that the process to achieve reconciliation and address other issues in Sri Lanka has already commenced and that it is “unfair” dictate a time limit for it.

British Prime Minister David Cameron on Saturday gave Sri Lanka a March deadline for showing progress on postwar reconciliation, after which he said he would press the issue with the United Nations.

“We have a legal system and constitution. We have a process, it has started. It will take time. We have to change the mindset of the people not only in the north but also in the south,” he told a media conference in Colombo at the conclusion of the three-day Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).

The president pointed out that it is not a thing that can be started today and finished tomorrow and that it has to be built slowly

“Whether it is Muslims who have been displaced, the Sinhalese who have been displaced and the Tamils. They’re all my people. My citizens. I have to look after them,” he said.

Possibly referring to the British Prime Minister David Cameron’s ultimatum for free and independent probe into human rights violations, Rajapaksa said, “you can’t say do it tomorrow, within one week or three months. That’s very unfair.”

 He stated that Sri Lanka as a member of the Commonwealth respects its values, be it human rights or democracy. That is why I had elections in the North and East, he said.  

Rajapaksa stated that his government is “very happy” that Tamil National Alliance got the two thirds majority in the Northern Provincial Council.

However, he stressed that the TNA now has to look after the Muslims and Sinhalese, who are minorities in the Northern Province.

“They have to look after not only the Tamils, they have the responsibility to look after the minorities of that province,” he said.

Rajapaksa stated that it is not only the President’s responsibility but the responsibility of all stakeholders.

He states that all 17 political parties in the Parliament should get together and give him a solution to the national issue. “The parliament is more important than one person taking decisions and saying ‘you do it’, the President said, adding that is not what he wants to do.

“Let the people’s representatives in parliament get together and tell me what to do. That is democracy,” he emphasized while adding that he is prepared to accept their solution. “This is not something you can do overnight.”

Rajapaksa, who has staunchly refused international calls for an independent inquiry, seeing it as an invasion into domestic matters, said: “you must respect our views also without trying to corner us.”

He urged the international community and especially the members of the foreign media to “please be fair” and to help Sri Lanka without dividing the communities.     

“We have suffered for 30 years. At least now we want to start a new life. People want it. That’s why they have elected me. And it is my responsibility as the president of this country to deliver it,” he said in conclusion.

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