Jan 12, London: The government of Sri Lanka, as a democratic and sovereign government, will work out the architecture of an independent and credible domestic mechanism in consultation with all the stake holders to address the national reconciliation and accountability, the country's Foreign Minister said.
Foreign Affairs Minister Mangala Samaraweera said while there are divergent views even within the government in respect of the participation of foreign judges in the proposed judicial mechanism, there is a clear consensus across the board on the need of an independent and credible domestic mechanism as promised by the manifesto of President Maithripala Sirisena.
Delivering a speech at the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London on Wednesday on "The Reconciliation Process in Sri Lanka", Minister Mangala Samaraweera said Sri Lanka is committed to the implementation of the UN resolution, which it cosponsored in October 2015.
"Sri Lanka is committed to the implementation of that resolution so that we as a country can deal with the past honestly and truthfully, accept that past, put it behind us, and then move forward to build our Sri Lankan nation anew," Minister Samaraweera said.
Highlighting that the comprehensive set of actions that the Government has identified to deal with the past included addressing the grievances of all victims, include truth seeking, justice, reparation and measures for guaranteeing non-recurrence, the Minister said as a first step, the government has enacted legislation to set up an Office on Missing Persons.
He said a Consultation Task Force set up to seek the views of the public has just handed over its Report to the Government on the 3rd of January, and the relevant experts of Government, in an exercise coordinated by the Secretariat that has been set up to Coordinate the Reconciliation Mechanisms will be studying the Report and finalizing the designing of a Truth-Seeking Commission and a Reparations Office.
Minister Samaraweera said that on the developmental front, a solid foundation for economic growth, job creation and broad-based prosperity is being laid.
"First, the government is dealing with the white elephant economy it inherited: debt, fiscal pressures and wasteful expenditure were serious problems that have now been stabilized," the Minister remarked.
He said the Government's plans of making Sri Lanka an Indian Ocean hub are beginning to bear fruit and by 2020, Sri Lanka will have the necessary infrastructure, regulations, and companies in place to achieve its hub ambitions.
Recalling that there were many missed opportunities in history for Sri Lanka to achieve peace and prosperity, the Minister said now that the two main political parties that have always worked against each other have come together, there is a unique opportunity which cannot simply be missed.
"For the first time in Sri Lanka's history the UNP, SLFP, TNA and Muslim parties have agreed to work together to address the root causes of conflict. We have learnt from the mistakes of the past, and we are committed to ensuring that we achieve the promise that shined so brightly at our Independence,"
Despite the challenges the National Unity Government remains steadfast in its determination to achieve the objectives it set out to achieve for the country, the Minister said add in that there is no going back.
"The challenges that we have before us are not easy ones. But determination and unity, and courage and moral fortitude drives us to embrace tough choices and endure hardship to break the cycle of missed opportunities and disappointments to achieve for our people, especially our future generations, the prosperous and peaceful land that they so deserve. We are determined to ensure our success.
"Breaking from the past, we will confine those who spin webs from the threads of ignorance to the dust-bin of history; finally put prejudice, ignorance, mediocrity and opportunism behind us once and for all, and build a truly united, democratic, multi-cultural and prosperous Sri Lanka where peace, justice, equality, dignity and freedom for all, prevail," Minister Mangala Samaraweera promised.