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'Time for national reconciliation'

world Updated: Feb 05, 2010 20:53 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

President Barak Obama has urged newly re-elected President Mahinda Rajapaksa to lead Sri Lanka towards national reconciliation in the post-Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) era and heal the divisions created by conflict.

The reconciliation, the US President added, should have the essential elements of respect for human rights and rule of law.

In a congratulatory message to Rajapaksa on the 62nd anniversary of independence, Obama said for the first time on over a generation, Sri Lanka was not under the shadow of terrorism.

Obama said: "The recent end of the war creates a historic opportunity for Sri Lanka to heal the divisions of conflict, and build a society that offers equality and opportunity for all. For the first time on over a generation, Sri Lanka is not under the shadow of terrorism."

He added: "I urge you to seize this opportunity to provide the leadership that will allow all Sri Lankans to come together and meet their aspirations to live in a country that is rooted in tolerance, respect for human rights, accountability, the rule of law, and freedom of the press- all elements essential for national reconciliation."

Though he won an emphatic second term in the January 26th Presidential election, the Rajapaksa regime has been plagued by allegations about the lack of the very aspects that Obama said could make for national reconciliation - violation of human rights in the last phase of the war against the LTTE, clampdown on media freedom and the lack of accountability.

In his Independence Day speech on Thursday, Rajapaksa called on minority ethnic Tamils to work with the government to settle their differences. He made it clear however added there would be no self-rule for them.

Tamil leaders should not "misguide" people or harbor political ambitions based on ethnicity or region, Rajapaksa said, adding in Tamil: "let's solve our problems ourselves through discussions."

"Hereafter, we will not entertain narrow divisions based on race, religion, language and political ideology in terms of regions," he said