Priority for reconciliation through truth-seeking: Sirisena

United Nations, Sep 30 (IANS) Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena on Wednesday reaffirmed that his government will give priority to national reconciliation through “truth-seeking, justice and reparation” as the island nation faces the fallout of decades of civil war.

“Our new vision for the country involves achieving the twin objectives of sustainable development and reconciliation,” Sirisena told the UN General Assembly.

“A fundamental requirement in this context is dealing with the past honestly and building a modern Sri Lankan nation. In dealing with the past, we will follow a process of truth-seeking, justice, reparation and non-recurrence.

“It is imperative that Sri Lanka adopts a new social, economic and political approach to rise up to the challenges of the 21st century,” he said.

“In this regard, reconciliation receives priority attention in my country.”

Sirisena’s emphasis on reconciliation and “truth-seeking” comes as the UN Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) called for special courts with international participation to try those charged with war crimes during the civil war.

Sri Lanka has opposed UNHRC proposals for so-called “hybrid courts” with both Sri Lankan and international judges and investigators, and said it would only accept advice from outside.

The US is drafting a resolution on the subject, and according to media reports, it would call for hybrid courts. Sri Lanka is trying hard to block it.

To fend off this challenge, Sirisena outlined his government’s efforts for reconciliation and to reinforce democracy through constitutional and institutional reforms.

The constitutional “amendments have reinforced the foundations of good governance through institutional reforms that strengthened pluralism and democracy,” he said.

Some of the powers of the president have been transferred to parliament and other institutions, he added.

“The confrontational political culture that prevailed in the country for six decades” has been replaced with one of governance with consensus, he said.

Dressed in a white kurta-like national garment, Sirisena addressed the General Assembly in Sinhala.

He invoked the Buddhist concepts of conflict in his analysis strife and ended his speech saying: “May the Noble Triple Gem Bless you.”

Sirisena also dealt with lessons from the civil war in dealing with terrorism.

Without naming the Tamil Tigers or other groups, Sirisena said: “We defeated one of the world’s most ruthless terror outfits.”

Sri Lanka’s experience in dealing with terrorism as well as with its aftermath can be shared with developing nations facing terror, he said.

“Sri Lanka remains prepared to engage in a more active dialogue with these countries and will continue to speak and advocate against terrorism.”

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