Sri Lanka leader asks Tamils to forget the past

2014-12-18 13:53
Sri Lankan President Mahinda-Rajapakse. (STR, AFP)

Sri Lankan President Mahinda-Rajapakse. (STR, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Colombo - Sri Lanka's president asked minority Tamils to "forget the past" as he campaigned for re-election on Thursday, vowing not to allow another uprising after decades of ethnic war.

President Mahinda Rajapakse, who is seeking an unprecedented third term, told a public rally in the former war zone of Mullaittivu that Tamils should join him to rebuild the battle-scarred region.

He made no reference to allegations that his troops killed some 40 000 Tamil civilians in the final months of fighting, when the leadership of the Tamil Tiger separatists was wiped out.

"Let us unite. Forget the past. Let us develop this country together," he said in an address broadcast live.

"We cannot let history repeat in this country."

Sri Lanka faces a UN-mandated international probe into war crimes. A report is expected at the UN Human Rights Council in March.

The UN has estimated that at least 100 000 people were killed in Sri Lanka's separatist war between 1972 and 2009.

Rajapakse included a few lines of Tamil in his address in Mullaittivu, where government forces fought their final battles with the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Local and foreign rights groups say despite the end of the war local Tamils are under constant surveillance in a region where the military still maintains a high presence.


Tamils account for about 15% of the electorate and could emerge as king-makers in January's presidential election if the majority Sinhalese are split between Rajapakse and his main rival.

The president faces an unexpected challenge from his former health minister and party general secretary, Maithripala Sirisena, who, like Rajapakse, is a member of the majority Sinhalese community.

Rajapakse, aged 69, was seen as the favourite when last month he called the January 8 snap election two years ahead of schedule.

But Sirisena has emerged as a formidable opponent after securing the support of all main opposition groups.

The popularity of Rajapakse's party showed a 21 percentage point decline at local elections in September.

Rajapakse has announced hefty salary increases for public servants, drastically reduced water, electricity and fuel prices in the run-up to the vote.

He has also offered subsidised motorcycles to hundreds of thousands of public servants and granted free electricity and water to police officers living in official barracks.

Read more on:    mahinda rajapakse  |  sri lanka

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.