The election of a new President with a mandate for good governance is an opportunity for Sri Lanka to make a fresh effort to achieve the post-war justice and reconciliation that has eluded it. The National Peace Council congratulates President Maithripala Sirisena on his election. We appreciate the smoothness of the transition and are relieved at the absence of post-election violence. However, we regret that the election campaign exacerbated the fears and divisions amongst the people. In particular we were dismayed at the manner in which huge amounts of war and conflict-related propaganda were shown on the state and private media as well as the fact that such propaganda seems to have swayed a significant segment of the Sinhalese people to vote for the ruling party candidate despite transgressions exposed by the joint opposition. So the first need of the new government is to dampen Sinhalese fears while seeking to rectify the grievances of the Tamil and Muslim people.
President Maithiripala Sirisena campaigned on a platform of good governance in which instituting a system of checks and balances and de-politicising key public institutions will take pride of place. The National Peace Council calls on the new President and political parties that rallied around him, which include political parties dedicated to achieving the interests of the Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim communities, to address the vexed issue of a political solution to the ethnic conflict and to ensure the restoration of land and lost rights to the people and the truth about missing and detained persons is ascertained. There is also a need to de-couple the military from civil affairs, not only the North and East, but throughout the country. We urge this to be done in a spirit of common enterprise rather than on bargaining and negotiating which will be divisive.
We call on activists from all shades of political persuasions to desist from recourse to violence in word and deed and to contribute to reconciliation between opposing shades of political opinions, religious and ethnic divisions and help to build on the rainbow coalition that contributed to the victory of President Maithripala Sirisena. We also see the need for educational programmes to heal the minds of the people and to emphasise the need for national reconciliation. A permanent solution will take time and care. Positive steps need to be taken to understand the issues of communities and integrate them ensuring their rights and dignity is assured wherever they choose to live.
The National Peace Council is hopeful that having engaged in a common struggle to regain democracy, the political parties that form the President’s alliance will have developed enough trust and understanding between themselves to reach out to each other and compromise on their differences. President Sirisena’s victory presents an opening for discussion among political parties of different ideological orientations in the background of a joint achievement – the victory of their common candidate and the joining together of political parties and politicians from across the political spectrum in the new government. They are now all on the same side, and this would be the best opportunity to work out a mutually acceptable solution.
Governing Council /NPC
The National Peace Council is an independent and non partisan organization that works towards a negotiated political solution to the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka.