Even as we congratulate the new president on obtaining 52.5 percent of the vote in a field of 35 candidates, we note that 47.5 percent of the electorate voted for other candidates. Most of them were the ethnic and religious minorities. Therefore, respecting the plural nature of Sri Lankan society will need to be an essential feature of governance in the immediate future in which there will be equal rights, equal opportunity and equal protection to all citizens which aligns with the concept of a meritocracy also espoused by the president.
NPC appreciates the new president’s directive not to put up his portrait in public offices but only the state symbol. In drawing this distinction between the state and the government, we see President Rajapaksa as following the spirit of the advice given by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission appointed by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa in 2011, which addressed the issues of the three decade long civil war, and stated that the rule of law ought to prevail over the rule of men.
We note that there is currently a spate of hate speech against the ethnic and religious minorities who are seen by as having to failed to vote for the new president and therefore as not patriotic. President Rajapaksa needs to call for an end to this as one of his first steps in reassuring the ethnic and religious minorities and in reuniting the divided polity. There needs to be an assurance that all people of all communities will enjoy equal protection before the law.
The National Peace Council is an independent and non partisan organization that works towards a negotiated political solution to the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka. It has a vision of a peaceful and prosperous Sri Lanka in which the freedom, human rights and democratic rights of all the communities are respected. The policy of the National Peace Council is determined by its Governing Council of 20 members who are drawn from diverse walks of life and belong to all the main ethnic and religious communities in the country.