President Sirisena’s final address to the nation | Sunday Observer

President Sirisena’s final address to the nation

President Maithripala Sirisena in his final address to the nation last evening said a free and fair Presidential Election could be held in the country as he stood neutral during the election campaign. He said all former Presidents and Prime Ministers took the lead of a political party and campaigned for their respective parties so that sometimes state power was used in an unprecedented manner in elections.

He said after 1947, this is the first time that a Presidential Election was under a President who remained neutral during an election campaign. Since the day the nominations were given, I played a neutral role and the three armed forces which come under my purview extended the fullest support to the National Election Commission to conduct a free and fair election.

The President said the 2019 Presidential Election is a clear testimony on how society has successfully moved forward compared with the 2015 Presidential Election.

He said “it is the responsibility of the newly elected President to further strengthen democracy and media freedom restored during my tenure in office. The main challenge faced by the new President would be to appoint a corrupt- free Cabinet from 225 Parliamentarians.

President Sirisena said he is satisfied with his tenure in office as he could fulfil a lot of work on behalf of the people and the country. I could restore democracy, freedom and create an administration free of corruption. However, the people may not feel most of these things given to them.

“Even today I extend my sincere thanks to the 6.2 million people who cast their vote for me at the Presidential Election on January 8, 2015. A couple of days later after I took oaths on January 9, 2015, I made a special statement addressing the nation in front of the sacred Dalada Maligawa. In my address, I said that I won’t contest for my second term.”

The President said the introduction of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was a painstaking exercise fulfilled by him. Through the 19th Amendment, I curtailed some of the unlimited powers exercised by the Executive President. Some of the powers exercised by the President were given to Parliament, the Cabinet of Ministers, independent commissions and the judiciary. I went even beyond that limit and reduced the six year term of the President to five years.

During my tenure, full democracy and freedom were restored in the country. I believe I could ensure full media freedom and democracy to an extent never enjoyed by the people before. However, that media freedom and democracy restored later boomeranged with serious allegations, character assassinations and insults directed against me via social media. However, I was not demoralized by any such acts, he said.

“ I could fulfil a significant thing which could not be done by any state leader who came to power since 1947. That is, no killings, political revenge, harassment or damage were caused to the personal properties during my tenure. The Government’s guns were not fired at anybody under the pretext of political revenge or harassment.

The President said “ I could fulfil most of the pledges given to the people in my election manifesto. It is not a secret that crisis situations did occur due to policies and political clashes, but not on any personal grounds. As a Government, we could complete a series of work during the past five years. However, we could not complete some of the urgent work on behalf of the people due to a conflict situation in the Government.”

The President said when he assumed office, there was a lot of foreign interference and threats to the country. “I believe I could clear nearly 99 percent international pressure exerted on us that human rights violations had taken place during the war.”

He said we faced several major challenges such as poverty alleviation and creating national unity and reconciliation among all communities with a conducive environment for all communities to live like members of one family. I made a lot of effort towards this endeavour.r that. Steps should be taken to completely eliminate suspicion, fear and mistrust created among communities owing to language barriers.

“ I took several tough political decisions against fraud, corruption and malpractices. I may be the only state leader who appointed a Presidential Commission with judicial powers to investigate into the fraud and corruptions of my own Government. It had never happened in the country before. The Treasury Bond scam was the biggest financial fraud that occurred in our state institution. However, I appointed a Presidential Commission to look into the Treasury Bond scam and legal action was taken against the culprits. These investigations are still continuing successfully. I hope the new Government that comes to power will present five forensic reports on the Central Bank issue to Parliament.