Kumaratunge vows relentless battle against 'hatred'
[TamilNet, Wednesday, 22 December 1999, 15:52 GMT]
(NEWS FEATURE) Mrs Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge, after being sworn in as Sri Lanka's fifth Executive President this afternoon at her official residence Temple Trees before the Chief Justice, vowed to "rid this land of death and destruction." Political commentators said it indicated her speech heralded a stronger effort to defeat the Liberation Tigers militarily.
"There is no other political leader in this country who sees so clearly as I do the enemy that walks so freely about in our land," she said.
|Mrs Chandrika Kumaratunge was sworn as Sri Lanka's fifth Executive President, in front of the Chief Justice, Sarath.N.Silva, at her official residence, 'Temple Trees', today.Photo:TamilNet|
"That enemy is hatred" she said, in what political commentators said was an oblique reference to the LTTE and its leader, V. Pirapaharan.
"I, and my family, and this nation, have felt his touch one too many times," President Chandrika continued.
"From this day forward I shall not rest until I have rid this land of hatred and its curse of death and destruction, she said."
The President called on the leader of Sri Lanka's main opposition United National Party (UNP) to join her in bringing about peace, "without compromising in any way with those who attempt to sow terror."
At the commencement of her speech, she requested the gathering to observe one minute's silence with her "in memory of those whose lives were stolen in the terrible destruction on December 18; indeed in memory of all Sri Lankans who have lost their lives to this hideous conflict."
Later, the new cabinet headed by her mother Mrs Srimavo Bandaranaike was sworn in by the President.
Extracts from President Kumaratunge's speech follow:
"Mr.Wickremasinghe, I stretch out my hand to you to join this government, both you and your supporters. I call upon you and your supporters to honour now by your actions the commitment to which you gave yourself throughout your election compaign, the commitment to this nation's peace, without compromising in any way with those who attempt to sow terror even for narrow political gains," said President Kumaratunge addressing the gathering later at Temple Trees.
|Prime Minister (also the President's mother), Srimavo Bandaranaike at the swearing in ceremony.Photo:TamilNet|
"In particular, I stretch out my hand to all our Tamil brothers and sisters who believed, mistakenly, in the benevolence of Mr.Prabakaran to reject for once and for all the LTTE and all the violence and hatred they stand for. You must see the light of peace. I urge you to use every ounce of influence at your disposal to bring Mr.Prabakaran to the negotiating table without any further delay. I urge you to persuade with every conceivable argument anyone who is a member or a supporter of the LTTE to renounce violence and join us in establishing peace."
"At the same time I stretch out my hand to the leaders of all our nation's communities and faiths. Together,let us set out to clear away this culture of terror and death, let us invite all our cadres to join in this journey to rehumanise our nation"s soul."
"The night of 18 December will go down in history as the night this land was touched by the hand of darkness one too many times," President Kumaratunge said referring to the attempt on her life last Saturday.
"To all those who have ever doubted my resolve to lift the curse of hatred and death that has fallen upon our land, I offer the challenge to look into my face now and voice your doubt. I challenge them say, they dare, that Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge is not genuine in her desire to forge a permanent peace with arms of compassion and love."
"I will answer them, indeed the very wounds I bear will answer them, that there is no individual on this earth more determined than I am to end this country's wretched and mindless bloodshed and destruction. I will answer them that there is no other political leader in this country who sees so clearly as I do the enemy that walks so freely about in our land. That enemy is hatred and he stands in front of me as I speak. I see him. I know him. I, and my family, and this nation, have felt his touch one too many times."
"Indeed it is with unshakeable confidence that I declare that I have felt his touch for the last time. Because from this day forward I shall not rest until I have rid this land of hatred and its curse of death and destruction. This new lease of life, this national miracle, shall be the beginning of a vow, a new destiny for our country. Our vow and our destiny are that peace must reign."
"But peace does not arise from nowhere, just as presidents do not arise from nowhere. As a president is elected vote by vote by the individual hands of our people, so peace must be elected soul by individual soul" she said.
|President Kumarathunge with her cabinet ministers after being sworn in. (Click the image to get larger picture).Photo:TamilNet|