‘Freedom is an immense responsibility’

President at Independence Day celebrations in AnuradhapuraPresident Mahinda Rajapaksa said yesterday that the country has achieved more prosperity in the three years since the LTTE was defeated than during 50 years of independence from British rule.

“During the three years after gaining freedom from terrorism we have been able to use that freedom to give the Motherland an immense value much more than that given during the half century since independence in 1948,” the President said in his address to the Nation at the celebrations held to mark the 64th Independence Day celebrations held at Sri Sambuddhathwa Jayanthi Mawatha premises in Anuradhapura.

In a brief speech lasting less than 20 minutes, he touched on several issues such as the LLRC report, the proposed Parliamentary Select Committee to find a solution to the national issues and economic development while reiterating the need for everyone to work together, “just as we got together and worked with dedication to defeat terrorism.”

“Conspiracies and propaganda of terrorists based overseas have not abated still. When such things happen abroad some people here do various things to destabilize the Motherland. They expect to achieve in Sri Lanka certain results that happened in some countries of the world. Both these groups are one. Fuel and nutrition for this struggle in Sri Lanka are received from separatism active in foreign lands,” he charged.

The President said the Government was engaged in the task of creating a stable peace and national unity after liberating the country from terrorism and that this task should not be confined to one individual or a party.

“Solutions cannot be obtained by implementing the proposals of extremist groups of whatever persuasion. What is required today is the formulation of policies based on a vision that is commonly applicable to the whole country,” he said.

The President also referred to the report of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) which stated that all are responsible for this problem and said that all those who act according to their conscience should take heed of this statement. He added that the Government has started implementing the recommendations of the Commission and a lot has been done during a span of six weeks since the Report was tabled in Parliament on December 17.

The President also said that he had no intension of using executive power to suppress public opinion.” We are committed to parliamentary democracy as well as to the country's law, independence of the judiciary and good governance.”

He said that Sri Lanka is an Asian democratic state which has practiced universal suffrage without gender discrimination uninterruptedly for the longest period.” We are committed to defend the right to make and break governments through universal suffrage. We all know that Parliament representing people including all parties, ethnic communities, religions is the supreme democratic institution.”
Hence he said the mechanism for solving the National Question is the Parliamentary Select Committee and that it is the duty of all parties in the country to solve problems according to people's wishes by participating in this Parliamentary Select Committee rather than relying on imported solutions and utilizing foreign influences.’

The President also paid tribute to the war heroes who dedicated their lives and all others who worked for the freedom of the country.

“You know freedom is an immense responsibility for us today. During the war previous governments could blame everything on the war and escape. However, the people who gained peace after the war expected to march from inefficiency to efficiency, from unemployment to employment, from impurity to purity and from backwardness to modernity,”

He added that the economic crises in the world also affect our country but due to programs such as Gama Neguma, Divi Neguma and the immense revival of agriculture, the country has been able to face the world food crisis very well. “You know that we are becoming self-sufficient in food and are strong enough even to export food to the world outside. It is also important to understand the problems we face due to the rise in oil and gas prices. It is important to be aware of the reality. In face of all these we should be prepared to demonstrate our strength and courage to the world.”

The President added that the country still has to go a long way. “We have to give the rural people who comprise 80% of our population the results of major development work we have initiated in the country. It is not only an expectation but also a challenge which we are ready to take up.”

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