- Created on 19 November 2010
President Rajapaksa took his oaths today to the most powerful position in the Sri Lankan polity. He has won the confidence and trust of a majority of the general population as the commander-in-chief of the Sri Lankan armed forces who provided overall leadership to eliminate war and terrorism from the country. Unlike his predecessors, President Rajapaka will not face any armed or territorial challenge to his government's rule in his second term. With his reputation and powers the president is well positioned to steer the country on to a new path of peace and democracy. From a peace building and even a development perspective the main challenge facing Sri Lanka is to come up with a political solution to the ethnic conflict after the war. This includes the active acceptance that all communities be they Sinhalese, Tamils or Muslims have suffered, been displaced at various points in time and need to be compensated and re-empowered as individuals and communities.
A full national celebration, embracing all communities would be the beginning of free collaboration in all spheres. One of the disappointing features of the whole series of magnificent events that had been organized to celebrate the president’s oath taking was that it had little or no participation of communities from the north and east who also shared in the three decade conflict suffering and needed to be given an opportunity to share in the fruits of peace and national amity if the nation is to truly foster reconciliation. In addition, many government members who speak on behalf of the government both in Sri Lanka and abroad tend to give the impression that the vanquishing of the LTTE on the military battlefield has solved the country's main problem and opened the door to development. But development and raising the living standards of the Tamil people will not make the demands of the ethnic minority disappear.
The experience of other countries has shown time and again that when people develop economically they become more insistent in their demands for some form of self governance unless this need is pro-actively met. The rise of militancy in the south and terrorism in the north and east were as a result of unfulfilled aspirations of those societies and especially of their youth. The National Peace Council urges the President to address the roots of the ethnic conflict that gave rise to the war, instead of denying its existence because the LTTE was defeated and hoping for development to make the ethnic demands vanish.
In accordance with the trends in international thinking, political stability, peace and justice are seen to flow from respect for democracy, human rights and the prevalence of the rule of law through the existence of independent institutions. Institutional safeguards alone will not ensure that those holding office will act independently without being beholden to the appointing authority. We need men and women of conscience who respect truth and fairness, appointed to posts in the administration of justice. Since the President has untrammeled authority in appointments after the 18th Amendment it is his duty to appoint such individuals instead of those who seek power and positions.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa's wish to ensure that his second term of presidential office is one that ushers in an era of prosperity to the country requires that the government recognizes the trends in accepted principles in the world that give primacy to the rule of law, decentralization, sharing of power and the participation of civil society in development. As a country with a large rural population of small farmers we need a people centered development driven by the people themselves and this requires devolution of power to empower the people of all communities. As a country Sri Lanka also needs to maintain a cordial relationship with its neighbors and with the international community not only for trade and tourism and foreign investments but also for its own existence as a sovereign prosperous nation. This is the change that we would like to see during the President’s second term in office.
The National Peace Council is an independent and non partisan organisation that works towards a negotiated political solution to the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka. It has a vision of a peaceful and prosperous Sri Lanka in which the freedom, human rights and democratic rights of all the communities are respected. The policy of the National Peace Council is determined by its Governing Council of 20 members who are drawn from diverse walks of life and belong to all the main ethnic and religious communities in the country.