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* Sri Lanka Foreign Minister slams former president Mahinda Rajapaksa for misleading public with erroneous claims on reforms
Wed, Mar 15, 2017, 08:41 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Mar 15, Colombo: Sri Lanka's Foreign Affairs Minister Mangala Samaraweera today in a hard-hitting statement slammed the former president Mahinda Rajapaksa for misleading the public with "inaccurate, inflammatory and erroneous" statements.

Responding to a media release issued by the former president titled "Constitutional and legal reforms to destroy the nation" on 13 March, the Minister said although his first inclination would be to ignore such "inaccurate, inflammatory and erroneous" statements, it is a serious matter that deserves response when a former head of state seeks to deliberately cause division in Sri Lankan society by misleading the public, especially after years of conflict in which all communities have suffered.

The Foreign Minister explained that the erroneous claims made by Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa in his media releases hinge on the selective quotation and misreading of five key documents.

The former president in his statement said the agenda that runs through the five documents are, "firstly, punishing the armed forces for winning the war, secondly, devolving more and more power to the provinces until the central government ceases to be relevant, thirdly, destroying the ability of the Sri Lankan state to respond adequately to a break down in law and order, fourthly demoralizing and breaking the will of the majority of the population and the armed forces, and fifthly, creating as favorable space for separatism as possible."

Clarifying Mr Rajapaksa's claims on the UN Human Rights Council resolution of October 2015, co-sponsored by Sri Lanka, Minister Samaraweera said the decision to co-sponsor resolution 30/1 was not imposed on Sri Lanka, and the state will co-sponsor an extension of the timeline of this resolution by two years during the present 34th session of the Human Rights Council.

Minister Samaraweera made it clear that the transitional justice mechanisms to be implemented will benefit every community and will certainly not single out and target the armed forces.

"The former President manipulates the respect that the Sri Lankan people have for the armed forces to hide his own responsibilities. This is opportunistic, and especially ironic, coming from the person who imprisoned the commander who led the armed forces to victory," he said.

Responding to the statement regarding the constitutional reforms, Minister Samaraweera said reports of the six subcommittees appointed by the Steering Committee of the Constituent Assembly published in November 2016 are the result of deliberations in which all political parties have participated and the public will ultimately judge the final proposals on their merits.

Commenting on Mr. Rajapaksa's claim that European Commission imposed 58 conditions to restore GSP+ to Sri Lanka, Mr. Samaraweera said the Unity is determined to recover the favorable trade status Sri Lanka enjoyed before the Rajapaksa government squandered it and the elements that the EU considers are consistent with human rights, the rule of law and good governance are also those desired by the people of this country.

"As a responsible and caring Government, we are committed to creating the trade and economic conditions required to improve the lives of all Sri Lankans, and also establishing a positive and fruitful relationship with the EU that will help us to achieve that goal on behalf of all our citizens," he said.

Responding to the former president's claim that by abolishing the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) "provisions have been drafted so as to provide the maximum leeway for terrorists and cause the maximum obstruction of the armed forces," the Foreign Minister said to suggest that replacing the "anachronistic piece of legislation" misused by some to commit abuses for narrow political advantages with a modern law is unpatriotic is baseless.

"The security of all Sri Lankans including those who criticize the Government is something that the Government takes seriously," he said.

"The National Unity Government makes no apologies for choosing the path of transparency, truth, justice, and reconciliation, upholding the dignity of all citizens. The future of our great nation will not have walls of fear and doubt that separate communities. Rather, it will be a bright, open and inclusive path that invites all to walk together side-by-side as equal citizens," the Foreign Affairs Minister said.


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