SL doesn’t want to get caught between powerful nations: Rajapaksa

Rajapaksa also assured that he would release all the lands of the civilians taken over by the military in the North and the East.

Colombo: Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said on Tuesday that his country does not want to get caught up between powerful nations.

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He made the remarks while addressing the second session of the ninth Parliament, during which he also presented his government’s policy statement.

The session was attended by a large number of guests, including Ambassadors and High Commissioners.

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“While giving priority to the country’s sovereignty and independence we are ready to response positively to the international observations. We are an independent and sovereign nation. We do not want to get caught up between the powerful nations,” President Rajapaksas said.

“While we respect our neighbours what we need is to maintain a friendly and cordial relationship with every nation.”

President Rajapaksa’s remarks came in the backdrop where opposition parties and critics have complained that amidst the ongoing financial crisis, his government has been selling its lands and resources to powerful countries like China, India and the US and making the island-nation a hunting ground for super powers.

During his hour-long speech, President Rajapaksa also invited the representatives of the minority Tamil and Muslim political parties from the North and the East to join him in promoting the lives of the people ravaged by three-decades long Civil War.

“I urge all the representatives from the North and the East to set aside their political ideologies temporarily and help the government’s efforts to promote lives of the people in the war affected areas.”

Rajapaksa also assured that he would release all the lands of the civilians taken over by the military in the North and the East.

“We released 90 per cent of the civilian land occupied by the military during the period when I was the Defence Secretary. Since there is peace, we would be able to release the rest of the civilian lands taken for military purposes in the area.”

While ensuring justice for all the war-affected sections, Rajapaksa also said that the issue of disappearance during the war was not limited to one party.

“We condemn racism and we want to ensure the rights and respect of all parties… I urge this from all the politicians who continue to incite communal disharmony among different races and ethnic groups. We are ready to introduce timely changes to the Prevention of Terrorism Act which was introduced as far back as 1978.”

The President also said he had given Presidential pardon to a group of former LTTE members.

Rajapaksa further stressed that the people from the war battered North and East need economic security more than anything else and said that investments have been made to develop the peninsular predominantly occupied by the Tamils.

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