Political settlement with Tamils must for stability: Lankan PM

Political settlement with Tamils must for stability: Lankan PM

Sri Lanka's new Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has said a "political settlement" with the minority Tamil community is a prerequisite for a "stable and secure" country.

"If you want a stable and secure country, we must have a political solution (with Tamils) and move forward," Wickremesinghe said in an address in the Tamil-dominated Jaffna peninsula yesterday.

"The war is over, but we do not have unity among ethnic communities. Tamils have shown their willingness to ensure reconciliation. We must have a political settlement and move forward, protecting peace and stability," he was quoted as saying in a statement released by his office.

Achieving reconciliation with the Tamil minority remains a top priority for the government of President Maithripala Sirisena, Wickremesinghe said during his three-day visit to the Northern Province which ended today.

Wickremasinghe said his government is committed to uplift the communities in the war-torn Northern Province and will work towards providing basic facilities.

The government would provide electricity and clean drinking water to the people in the entire peninsula and would also focus on health and education to improve their standard of living, he said.

Since coming into power, the government has taken significant steps to bring normalcy in the north.

The government has also returned some military-acquired land to original Tamil owners. A travel restriction for foreigners travelling to the north imposed by the previous Mahinda Rajapaska regime has also been lifted.

Wickremesinghe said he has appointed a dedicated official to address northern Tamil problems in his office.

"You can bring all your problems to the attention of my office," Wickremesinghe said.
The new government has also appointed a high powered committee headed by former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga that will look at practical ways to achieve reconciliation by addressing long-standing issues.

Wickremasinghe pledged to implement a massive programme to provide pure drinking water for the people in the entire peninsula and to restart industries that were destroyed during the war to provide employment to the people in the area.

The Prime Minister said 400 youth well versed in Tamil will be recruited as police officers to solve daily law and order problems of the people.

Sirisena, who defeated former strongman Rajapaksa in the polls earlier this year, received overwhelming support from the Tamil and Muslim minorities in the elections.

According to UN estimates, up to 40,000 Tamil civilians were killed by security forces during former president Mahinda Rajapaksa's regime that brought an end to the nearly three decades-long war in the country with the defeat of the LTTE in 2009.

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