From Sandun A Jayasekera in London
Forming a national government in Sri Lanka was not an easy task as we aspired because our political culture was such that political parties always attempted to undermine and weaken the other, President Maithripala Sirisena said in London today.
He made these remarks when he met a delegation from a 'Maithri Support Group in UK' affiliated to the UK branch of the UNP at his hotel, Park Lane Hilton.
“I am the common candidate and I am common and belong to all. I can't treat any one more or less and discriminate any one against others. This is not an easy task. But we must always try to do the difficult things for success. But the problem is that many can't realise this,” President Sirisena said.
“A monumental challenge that lied between death and life had been mounted during the last Presidential Election and if something went wrong, the repercussions would have been devastating.
“We had a number of opportunities in the last few years in the form of tsunami in 2004, victory against separatist terrorism in 2009 and victory of the common candidate in 2015, since gaining independence to rebuild and unite the nation. But unfortunately we failed to exploit those opportunities to our benefit after the first two and now we are left with the last chance,” he said.
“We must use the victory in 2015 for our advantage and use it to unite and rebuild the divided nation and develop the weakened economy but not to build palaces for high and mighty,” President Sirisena stressed.
President Sirisena emphasised that political parties, in the North as well as in the South must put an end to confrontational and vituperative politics.
“If the political parties were not able to put behind their opportunistic policies, no one would be able to prevent another war in ten years.
“The diplomatic corps of Sri Lanka had been subjected to humiliation and failure. A quick re-organisation is necessary to restore it on its former glory.
“Diplomatic posts should not be given as gift to friends, relatives and backers to spend their holiday in a greener pasture or to educate children in a foreign university.
“As Sri Lankans, you may have seen how members of various communities and nations live in London as one family. It is your duty to give this message to your kith and kin back home and make them aware the importance of living in peace and harmony with other communities,” he said.
The Sri Lankan delegation told the President Sirisena the difficulties they confronted when obtaining dual citizenship, the fee charged for dual citizenships and President promised to see the possibility of reducing the Rs. 500,000 fee.
President of the 'Maithri Support Group in UK' Harshana Kannangara said even before President Sirisena decided to come forward as the common candidate at the Presidential poll, the group had decided to support him.
The result was that the group had to face many a harassment, threat and intimidation in the similar manner those who rallied behind President Sirisena faced in Sri Lanka.
“However, it was a great relief that all ended well as we expected. We have no doubt that you will bring happiness, freedom and relief to all Sri Lankans and we will be behind you whether we are in Sri Lanka or in another country.
“We have no doubt that you would fulfil aspirations of all Sri Lankans during your rule and Sri Lanka will re-emerge as a proud and respected member of the global community once again during your rule,” Mr. Kannangara stressed.
Mr. Chatura Widyaratne, former Sri Lanka journalist also took part in the discussions.