Interpreting the recent Sri Lankan election results as a vote for ‘unity and change’, Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated visiting Sri Lankan foreign minister Mangala Samaraweera and hoped the verdict will ‘advance peace, reconciliation and development in Sri Lanka and peace and progress’ in the region.
Modi said, in a meeting with the foreign minister, that even a ‘few steps can clearly indicate one’s direction’. He admired the Colombo leadership’s efforts to create a ‘truly Sri Lankan government’, which is ‘inclusive of all voices’.
Maithripala Sirisena defeated Mahinda Rajapaksa in presidential elections held on December 8. Sirisena was a common opposition candidate, backed by key Sinhalese leaders like Chandrika Kumaratunga and Ranil Wickremasinghe – as well as Muslim and Tamil outfits. The coalition saw the consolidation of the anti-Rajapaksa vote in its favour.
Meanwhile, in a separate meeting with media persons, Samaraweera said that the election represented Sri Lanka’s ‘Arab spring moment’, which ended an ‘emerging dictatorship’. He rejected a recent Reuters report, which suggested that the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) had helped cobble together the opposition alliance. The foreign minister called it a ‘diabolical rumour’, and a ‘fairy tale cooked up by Mahinda folks’.
The foreign minister hailed Modi’s commitment to the region, and indicated that Sirisena will visit New Delhi in February – and Modi will visit Colombo in March, as first reported by HT. The minister indicated that they will reexamine projects with China, especially those involving large loans and large interest payments.
The two nations had also agreed to repatriate the refuges currently in India. Samaraweera said, “We don’t want to see any of our citizens languishing in refugee camps. Please come back.”