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Old 26-08-13, 10:34 AM
sriyanj sriyanj is offline
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Default North and east in triumph

Prof . Rajiva Wijesinghe
Kotelawala Defence University

The following is the first part of a lecture by Prof Rajiva Wijesinha delivered on August 3, 2013 at the MA Course of the Kotelawala Defence University. The full text will be serialised in these pages:

Tag-Point-of-View-2013l_20.jpgHaving written 20 columns on International Relations and Security, I thought it time to share some of the talks I have been giving to our Security establishments with regard to what more we need to do to ensure internal security. I am heartened by the fact that the colloquiums the different academic institutions the forces foster are well aware of the shortcomings in current practice, and have had a range of discussions about possible remedial actions.

Most important in this regard were two seminars conducted by respectively the Officer Career Development Centre in Buttala and the Kotelawala Defence University. However, before moving on to the presentations I made, I will begin with a lecture I gave to a small group at the KDU. I was pleased to see very senior officers and officials there, and I had searching and constructive questions, which confirms my view that the forces are more serious about administrative principles and reforms than other agencies.

However we have to make sure that it is that strand in the forces that takes decisions about policies and practices, and not those elements who react without proper planning to any problem, as though they were politicians.

Let me begin with a comment of a Member of the European Parliament after his visit to the North, when he met officials involved in resettlement and rehabilitation and what should be reconciliation. He told me that the meeting was interesting, but there were 'still too many new roads in the north and too much poverty'.

Infrastructure development program

This is not an isolated comment. A distinguished administrator, who has worked devotedly for this government, noted recently that there was far too much cement. Four years after the war concluded, I fear that this is increasingly the view of many in the North, and also of the perceptive in the South who see a great opportunity for National Unity and Reconciliation being squandered.

This does not mean that cement is not essential. One of the most impressive things about government activity in the last half dozen years is the fantastic infrastructure development program, in the country as a whole, and especially in the North and East. But that alone is not enough. As I wrote to the Governor of the Northern Province recently, there has not been enough conceptualization of the differences in the various areas, and the particular needs of each.

I wrote then that;

a)In the Vanni, the neglect of Human Resources Development over the last few decades means that few people can take advantage of the great achievements of the government with regard to infrastructural development. They need skills training as well as entrepreneurship development. The Special Forces Commander in Kilinochchi has started a number of programs that could be strengthened and replicated elsewhere.

b)In the main Jaffna peninsula, there is need of greater consultation to prevent people, and especially social leaders - who are not political but will be driven into oppositional politics - from feeling alienated. The Special Forces Commander in Jaffna is aware of these factors and could contribute to a more participatory policy.

c)In the islands, there is also need of Human Resource Development, as well as small scale projects to z_p07-NORTH-04_0.jpggenerate employment. The model the navy provides in Delft could be replicated elsewhere. This should be easier to do through partnerships, given the sympathetic attitude of the local government leadership, but its general lack of capacity to think and plan is worrying, and must be remedied.

I had made the first two points previously, but the situation in the Islands of the Jaffna District made the particular needs of each area even more obvious, whilst also indicating how easy it would be to address them.

As you would have noted from what I wrote, I have enormous faith in the capacity of the forces to identify issues and deal with them effectively. However similar skills of conceptualization are not present in government, which is why we have what seems a Pavlovian method of proceeding, ie simply doing mechanically what has been done before.

Employment opportunities

Some of these ideas were sketched out in the Draft National Policy on Reconciliation that I submitted to the President over a year back. One reason I believe we will not achieve either National Unity nor Reconciliation in the short term is the fact that I have not as yet had a response to that.

The President told me that he had passed it on for comment, but unfortunately no one in a position of influence has the same commitment to these goals as the President himself evinces.

This is of a piece with the manner in which some excellent ideas he has put forward, for instance in the budget speeches of both 2011 and 2012, are completely ignored by the Ministries that should take them forward. In short, Sri Lanka is the only country in the world where you have an Executive Presidency presiding over an Executive that is hamstrung by the political considerations that tend to dominate Parliaments.

To return to the National Reconciliation Policy, we suggested three areas in which action was needed. The first of these was;

A. Recovery and equitable development

It is acknowledged that a sense of grievance that led later to separatism arose through perceptions of discrimination and inequitable treatment. Government schemes to promote infrastructure and employment opportunities seemed confined to Sinhala majority areas. While this may have been due to populist policies based on electoral considerations, it created a strong sense of deprivation among the minority communities.

Most upsetting perhaps was the introduction of a language policy that, whilst maintaining segregation in education on the basis of language, privileged those who knew Sinhala with regard to state employment as well as dealings with officials. This policy extended later to restrictions on educational opportunities based on language distinctions.

Though some measures have been taken to promote equity in infrastructure development, and language policies have been revised, there is still need of greater committed concern to ensure equity. Hence it is imperative that even-handed resource allocation and development takes place in consultation with local communities so that all communities participate in the development process and enjoy their fair share of economic prosperity.

Within the large group of the conflict-affected population, some smaller vulnerable groups in the North and East as well as other parts of the country who suffered specific disabilities as a consequence of the long conflict will require special interventions different from the generic programs.

Outside the North and East, programs are in place, and are managed and executed by both the State and by civil society organisations and INGOs with the aim of ameliorating some of their trauma and deprivation. Similar programmes are needed in the North and East.

In present conditions, widows and wives of missing combatants and civilians lack the supportive community network and extended family available to families in communities outside the conflict area.

In addition to the loss of a male breadwinner and protector, these women become even more vulnerable owing to the loss of personal documents, including marriage or divorce and birth certificates of children, and their identity cards.

The absence of such proof affect their legal rights to land ownership, access to loans and credit that require a male guarantor, and claims to state land and monetary relief usually granted to a male head of household. Furthermore, children and orphans who are with their grandparents or in children's homes require special interventions to ensure continuation of their education that had been disrupted during the conflict.

Special attention must also be paid to the elderly who have been singled out as a group that has been left without the traditional support of their male and female offspring in their ageing state.

Finally, combatants and civilians disabled as a consequence of the conflict several of whom may have been breadwinners, require programs for financial, physical and mental recovery as well as to venture into new areas of work in their disabled state.
- See more at: http://www.dailynews.lk/?q=features/....GJ9XB1nq.dpuf
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Old 26-08-13, 10:42 AM
sriyanj sriyanj is offline
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Default Cont. North and east in triumph

National Unity and Reconciliation
A9 Highway

Tag-Point-of-View-2013l_21.jpgThe following is the second part of a
lecture by Prof Rajiva Wijesinha delivered
on August 3, 2013 at the MA Course
of the Kotelawala Defence University:

Continued from Saturday, August 24. http://www.dailynews.lk/?q=features/...reconciliation

The following key responses must be undertaken in implementing this strategy:

* Formulate a national policy on development which guarantees equitable development and resource allocation to all communities, and ensures that local communities are consulted in the development process;

* Adopt urgent measures to ensure that the current national language policy is satisfactorily implemented;
Prof Rajiva Wijesinha

*Take additional measures to recruit Tamil-speaking police officers at all levels, and work towards ensuring parity between the national population ratio and the number of Tamil-speaking officers in the Police Service;

* Establish an independent National Police Commission and empower such a Commission to monitor the performance of the Police Service and ensure that all police officers act independently and maintain a high degree of professional conduct;

* Pursue actively a program of equitable distribution of educational facilities and make every effort to ensure that the inequality in the availability of educational facilities in different areas of the country is reduced and eventually eliminated;

*Adopt a national policy on resettlement which ensures that all displaced persons return to their places of origin or to equivalent lands in nearby areas, and which promotes living conditions, including access to educational, health and transport facilities;

*Adopt clear national land policies, whereby all resettled persons obtain title to their lands;

*Take immediate steps to assist in rebuilding the temples, mosques, churches, houses and schools destroyed or damaged during the war; and

*Formulate a clear policy on compensation for victims of the conflict whereby benefits including scholarships and loans on easy payment are provided to such persons as a minimum, particularly where State funds are insufficient to provide monetary compensation for all victims.

You will note here that we have emphasized the need for equitable resource allocation and development, and recent government activity in providing roads and electricity and water supply has been admirable. But this is only one aspect of many that need fulfillment if we are to win hearts and minds, and there has been far too little focused attention to that requirement.

Infrastructure projects

In the first place we should have started a concerted program of training immediately. Given the amount of construction we knew would take place, with regard to houses and community structures, leaving aside major infrastructure projects, we should have trained young people in the necessary skills. But it is only now that our Education Ministry has woken up to the need to do skills training in schools, and the provision of vocational training has been thin on the ground in most parts of the North.

We should also have ensured ready access to micro-credit, with training of local groups – and in particular women’s groups, given the special needs of single women in the North as well as the track record of women with regard to loans for business – in entrepreneurship and value addition for the agriculture that has in general provided adequate incomes in the area since Resettlement. This should have been a priority with regard to the former combatants, since we had a readily identifiable group to whom we had provided vocational training as well as socialization.

Unfortunately we did not have a dedicated Reintegration agency. When I was Secretary to the Ministry of Disaster Management and Human Rights, we developed a policy in this regard, but unfortunately, though we were expected to coordinate activity, the mandate for Rehabilitation was not ours, and the Ministry of Justice was not willing to work together with us.

This incapacity to coordinate work is, I should note, a grave problem in Sri Lanka, and given that Ministries have proliferated to impossible levels, there is considerable damage to the country through isolated efforts that do not take into account the input of others.

With no one given the specific responsibility for Reintegration, something the Rehabilitation Authority could have fulfilled admirably, there is confusion about what needs to be done as to the former combatants. There is a school of thought that all that has to be done is to keep an eye on them and ensure they do not get involved in terrorism again, whereas obviously the tendency to be led astray would be avoided if they were provided with gainful occupation, as well as the required resources to kick-start activity. But with none of this done systematically, we are left still worrying about a possible resurgence of terrorism.

Employment opportunities
Vocational training for Northern youth

Secondly, we should have engaged in educational reform at all levels, so as to enhance opportunities. Bearing in mind the factors that limit opportunities for young persons in the North, namely language limitations and the system of standardization, we should have moved more rapidly to functional bilingualism (and let me note that any two of our three national languages would enhance employment opportunities while also ensuring communication capacity with others) while also abolishing standardization and also increasing access to tertiary education, through well regulated deployment of the private sector too. Such education should of course include vocational and technical skills, with the opportunity to acquire soft skills too so that employment prospects and social mobility would be increased.

Finally, we should have developed consultation mechanisms to make the people of the North feel they were active participants in their own progress. We have still not learned the lesson that command structure development is not welcome, and that people need to feel empowered. And empowerment with regard to their own lives, as opposed to the abstracts in which politicians deal, is much easier to bestow, through consultation mechanisms and feedback. Unfortunately the commitment of the government to developing such mechanisms, at least with regard to local government activity, has not as yet been fulfilled. The last draft I saw of amendments to the Local Government Act is still informed with the top down mentality. Representatives to advisory committees are to be appointed, whereas they should obviously be elected from Rural Development Societies if their input is to represent the actual aspirations of the people of the area.

The second area in which efforts must be made to ensure inclusivity is political decision making and involvement in the administration. This last pertains in particular to local administration, which is what in reality impacts the lives of most people. Involvement must be based on clear ideas about what the responsibilities are of each layer of government, and on statutory provisions for consultation as well as accountability. In this context we had made a series of recommendations in the draft National Reconciliation Policy as follows –

B Political Participation and Administrative Accountability

It is acknowledged that grievances have been exacerbated by a sense of frustration among the minority communities that a political solution has not been reached despite numerous attempts to achieve this. Moreover, frustration over the controlling of the political process by those in power has contributed to two youth insurrections in the South.

It is generally accepted that decision-making on many matters cannot be left to the Central Government, which is often unaware of the ground situation, and has little political incentive to provide swift solutions to problems. This predicament makes devolution with regard to policy decisions in certain matters, and decentralisation to ensure swift responses in most areas, a matter of urgency. The ideal therefore is a three-tier system of government, with clear-cut responsibilities, and systems of accountability, to ensure the best possible service to the people.

As a matter of urgency, political negotiations should lead to a readjustment of the Constitution to promote empowerment of the people. Some matters, in particular those pertaining to national security, interpreted in the broadest sense to ensure financial, food and environmental security, in addition to physical security, must be the preserve of the Centre.

With regard to other matters, it is important to ensure maximum flexibility and safeguards for the citizens of any particular area, whilst preventing hijacking of decision making by parochial considerations. It is therefore vital to formulate, with full consultation, national policy on vital issues such as land and land alienation, education, environmental protection, etc, but to promote decision making at the smallest appropriate levels, in accordance with the doctrine. Yet it is important that the regions too should have a voice in decision-making in this regard.

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Old 26-08-13, 10:44 AM
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Constitutional amendments http://www.dailynews.lk/?q=features/...reconciliation

For this purpose all communities must work hard to create governance, administrative and social structures that create and foster interdependence among them. This will help create the feeling in each of the communities that their progress or downfall is inextricably linked with the progress or downfall of the other communities and thus help to inculcate a strong sense of nationhood among Sri Lankans.

In pursuance of such this strategy, it is critical that the following key responses are undertaken:

* Ensure implementation of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution with clarification of ambiguities to ensure full responsibility for policies and for functions at appropriate levels on the basis of the principle of subsidiarity;

* Introduce appropriate constitutional amendments to guarantee judicial review of proposed legislation with an adequate timeframe to challenge the same;

*Introduce appropriate constitutional amendments to also guarantee post-enactment judicial review for a prescribed period of time after the passing of legislation;

*Hold discussions within a prescribed timeframe to remove current ambiguities with regard to the Concurrent List as provided for in the current Constitution, and ensure that, where concurrence seems essential, clear mechanisms for resolving disputes based on consultation are provided;

*Ensure that Provincial authorities are adequately financed by the Centre, and that local authorities are adequately financed by the Province, along with autonomy as to usage, subject to established guidelines;

*Ensure maximum devolution to and empowerment of and local authorities as provided for in the law in compliance with the principle of subsidiarity;

*Establish an independent Public Service, and ensure at least bilingualism in the Public Service and other professions serving the public; and

*Enact without delay a law that guarantees the right to information, while paying due regard to the existing draft law of the freedom of information prepared by the Sri Lanka Law Commission.

*The Constitution shall be amended to provide for a Second Chamber of Parliament based on the principle of equal representation for all Provinces.

I really cannot understand why the clear commitment of the President to a Second Chamber has been ignored for so long.

Sometimes I suspect only he among decision makers understands the need for structures that enhance the input of the regions into decision making for the nation as a whole. Currently, and over the last 65 years, the impression has been created that it is only the views of the majority that count with regard to making laws for the nation as a whole. That perception has been strengthened by the absence of input by Parliamentarians into the Legislative process, with Parliament simply expected to rubber stamp what the Executive has decided on. The erosion of the Committee system in Parliament, and the misuse of provisions for urgent legislation, have all contributed to the sense that the main functions of Parliamentarians lie outside Parliament.

A Second Chamber will not entirely resolve that problem, but in the context of a small chamber debate and discussion might have enhanced value, and the opportunity for compromise oriented consultation will be greater. If that Chamber, which should have equal numbers for each Province, were composed of individuals who had no perks nor administrative authority, but were simply expected to deliberate on legislation as well as policy matters, the chances of having a legislative body that actually fulfilled the duties that are the main function of Legislatures in other countries would be greater.

I should note that, since that draft was prepared, I have registered also the importance of expanding both the powers and the responsibilities of local government. Subjects such as health and education and transport are best administered locally, where there is understanding of particular shortcomings. While supervision is vital at higher levels, by Central government with regard to National Policy (which must be uniform for the whole country in terms of the services to be provided to citizens), and by the Provincial administration with regard to equitable delivery, actual administrative arrangements for local services should be by agencies able to register what is needed and empathize with local needs.

This should be in addition to what local bodies are supposed to look after now, but about which they seem to have little idea about how to plan. Utilities and basic community services come under their purview, but the idea of Cultural and Entertainment Centres hardly figures in their thinking. The draft amendments to the Local Government Act put forward some good ideas as to how their sphere of activity can be enlarged, but there should be guidelines as to how such bodies should operate, and mechanisms must be put in place for coordination between elected and appointed officials in each area.

The idea of teams, both to develop plans, and to work in particular areas of responsibility, must also be encouraged, in line with the regular discussions that used to take place in an earlier era under the aegis of Government Agents in each province, when that post had prestige as well as power. So far though I believe it is only the Ministry of Child Development and Women’s Affairs that has put forward the idea of dedicated Units in each Divisional Secretariat, but even that Ministry has not as yet sent out clear job descriptions and formulated systems for coordination. This is vital in a context in which government appoints people simply to create jobs, without careful attention to the tasks they should fulfil and a system of reporting that is realistic and will ensure productive feedback.

Training programs

Finally, it is vital that the administration must be accessible to all citizens. Though government policy in this regard is clear, steps have not been taken to implement it universally, nor have steps been taken to make such implementation readily possible.

In particular the failure of government to have taken measures to promote at least bilingualism swiftly has led to continuing resentment – while we still have officials such as the Chairman of the Official Languages Commission who was under the impression that Tamil public servants had to rest content with government documents in Sinhala only, and that it was only private citizens who could ask for translations. Such individuals need serious retraining if they are not to retard the process of National Unity and Reconciliation. Instead of dogmatic responses to people’s needs, they should be working on training programs that will increase familiarity with two or three languages while also increasing the pool of potential translators.

In this context it is a pity that, despite great commitment, the Ministry of National Languages and Social Integration has limited funding, and is not able to think outside the box so as to make progress despite that lack of funding. The idea of establishing Language Centres in each Division, working together with schools, or with the private sector, is only now being explored. In this context government must encourage all agencies that can contribute to language learning taking appropriate initiatives, and cooperating with each other to make them successful. Unfortunately the Education Ministry, which has extensive resources at its disposal, in the form of buildings as well as staff and equipment that could be deployed more productively, has only now begun to think of using school facilities after hours.

The final area the Draft Reconciliation Policy addressed may seem at first sight the most difficult in which grievances can be alleviated. This concerns the sense of personal deprivation many feel, in particular those who have suffered bereavement. In many cases this is exacerbated by uncertainty about what actually happened to those they have lost.

I am not sure that we did justice to this latter aspect in the draft. We were more concerned there with the public aspect of overcoming grief, and perhaps we were affected too by the public, or should I say, international discourse on the subject. I will return later to what now seems at least an equally important aspect, but since the public aspect is also important, I will note here what was recommended in that regard.

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Old 26-08-13, 10:46 AM
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C. Truth, Justice and Reconciliation http://www.dailynews.lk/?q=features/...reconciliation

It is acknowledged that on all sides there are particular grievances arising from personal loss. Though the attribution of particular responsibility for such losses will not be easy, it is important to look into matters where there is already basic knowledge on which investigation can proceed. However, it must be noted that this should not be done in any spirit of retribution.

It is vital that the government recognises that many of those who engaged in acts of terrorism did so under compulsion, and whilst particular deeds may warrant investigation and judicial action, perpetrators should be treated with dignity and provided with an opportunity to reintegrate into society. Conversely, the government must fulfil its responsibility to investigate security forces for alleged excesses that occurred during the war.

Equally importantly, the government should set in place mechanisms to provide for ready redress, with regard both to the sufferings of the years of conflict, as well as for other problems that might arise. Additionally, certain symbolic gestures that recognise the suffering of all communities as a result of the war must be undertaken in order to build mutual understanding and empathy, both of which are critical to the national reconciliation process.

The following key responses must be undertaken in implementing this strategy:

Investigate, prosecute and punish wrongdoers including security forces implicated in deliberately targeted death or injury of civilians;

- Ensure proper investigation into disappearance, including those that took place after surrender to the armed forces, and ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice;

- Take immediate steps to disarm illegal armed groups and conduct proper investigations into the alleged human rights abused committed by such groups;

- Work comprehensively and cohesively to implement the National Action Plan on Human Rights that has been adopted by Cabinet, with particular attention to improving the capacities of and faith in the Police, to ensuring better protection mechanisms for women and children, and to streamlining the judicial system to promote confidence in its operations and a reduction of rote remanding;

- Put in place mechanisms that facilitate the acknowledgement of losses and suffering on all sides, accompanied by expressions of empathy and solidarity, such as the issuance of a joint declaration acknowledging the tragedy of the conflict and apologising to the victims of the conflict as a collective act of contrition by the political leaders and civil society, of both Sinhala and Tamil communities;

- Set apart a separate event on Independence Day to express solidarity and empathy with all victims of the tragic conflict and to pledge a collective commitment to ensure that there is no return or relapse to such atrocities ever again; and

- Clearly authorize the singing of the National Anthem in both the Sinhala and Tamil languages in accordance with the Constitution, and ensure both versions are sung at formal national events

In this respect we moved far too slowly, but in the last few weeks there has been much progress. Those who are committed to Reconciliation were heartened when, despite the vociferous opposition of a few, the President went ahead with his commitment to hold Provincial Council elections for the North. But as important was the almost simultaneous announcement that indictments would be issued with regard to the killing of five students in Trincomalee in 2006. Had this been done long ago, soon after the incident occurred, or when the Udalagama Commission presented its report, we would have saved ourselves a lot of trouble.

Heartening too was the recent decision of the President to order a commission to look into disappearances during the conflict period. This is vital, not only from a judicial point of view, to ascertain whether remedial action needs to be taken, but also because people need closure. Even though they may virtually have given up hope of seeing them again, if there is even a slight uncertainty as to what has happened to their loved ones, it is difficult to get back to normal life with a focus on the future and those who still remain.

Religious organizations

Following questions raised at various Divisional Reconciliation meetings over the last year and a half, I have been the more conscious of this, and noted the need to settle uncertainties through a formal process. I have also noted the need to provide counselling, for which we are not currently well equipped.

In fact five years ago I had brought this matter up in Geneva with the World Health Organization , which promised to help, but the trainer they had in place in Sri Lanka, who had done fantastic work in training local counselors after the tsunami, had to leave. Soon after the conflict ended, we tried again, with support offered by a couple of religious organizations, but unfortunately there was a suspicion that counselling was about collecting incriminating information, and suggestions for more concerted action in this field fell flat.

A thoughtful initiative of the Bureau of the Commissioner General of Rehabilitation also did not find favour, when the International Organization for Migration decided to work instead with a small and ultimately ineffective non-governmental organization which obviously could not have much impact.

Though there is more positive thinking now about psycho-social needs, we should do much more.

The Secretary to the Ministry of Health assured me towards the end of the year that he hoped to set a program in motion, but I am not sure if there has been satisfactory progress as yet.

This again exemplifies why it was unfortunate that we did not have a dedicated agency to look after reintegration since, in addition to the social reintegration I referred to earlier, spiritual needs also need to be addressed for reintegration to be successful.

With regard to some of the other aspects dealt with in this section of the Draft Policy, the Ministry of National Languages and Social Integration has been doing its best. Unfortunately it has limited resources, and is also unable to publicize its work adequately.

This is ironic because, while many Ministries are able to get publicity for activities which are not of great benefit to the public, social integration, which requires social awareness, is ignored.

Thus the Ministry recently celebrated a week of social integration but hardly anyone knew this was happening.

The Ministry is now working on promoting a day of national remembrance, as has also been recommended by the LLRC, and I hope this is more widely recognized. In this case wider consultations are being held, so it will have more hope of success.

However I believe initiatives such as this require greater prominence, which is why I have over the last few months been suggesting that the task of Reconciliation requires a Ministry, which should preferably be headed by the President.

Needs are too great for them to be satisfied by other Ministries, whereas if the task were taken on by the President, with an effective Secretary such as the experienced administrator now in charge of implementation of the LLRC Action Plan, all other Ministries would cooperate actively in the various initiatives that are required.

In short, given the different areas in which action is needed, we must have a dedicated agency in place.

This could also deal with implementation of the National Human Rights Action Plan, since improving our situation in that regard will also contribute to the confidence that is an essential aspect of Reconciliation.

And if this could also take on responsibility for Constitutional Reform, another area like Human Rights in which the scrapping of a dedicated Ministry has led to neglect, we could I believe start at least moving methodically to the National Unity we sorely need at this moment.
- See more at: http://www.dailynews.lk/?q=features/....uGAZDg2u.dpuf

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