Delivering remarks at a panel discussion on ongoing constitutional reforms in Sri Lanka at the United States Capitol Hill Congress building, Ambassador Prasad Kariyawasam said the task at hand is to agree on a constitution that is acceptable to the majority of every community in Sri Lanka, and this requires great compromises. Observing that thirty years of suffering due to the conflict cannot be undone in one year, he appealed for patience and tenacity of all well-wishers of Sri Lanka, and calling to support the expansion of the leverage of moderates to take forward the reconciliation process, which now includes a constitutional reforms process.
Along with Tamil National Alliance Member of Parliament M.A. Sumanthiran, Ambassador Kariyawasam was a guest panelist at the June 14 briefing organized by the “Congressional Caucus for Ethnic and Religious Freedom in Sri Lanka”. The event was moderated by Sadhanand Dhume of the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington-based think tank. The Caucus is an initiative launched by United States House Representatives Bill Johnson of Ohio and Danny Davis of Illinois, in November, 2013.
The Ambassador provided an overview of the measures taken by Sri Lanka to promote its two-pronged policy of reconciliation and development since the January 2015 election of the current government and reiterated in detail, measures taken by the government to vindicate its commitment to these processes and explained the several challenges that militate against government efforts.
MP Sumanthiran in his remarks, among other matters, acknowledged that “people [in the North and East] can genuinely feel the change” in terms of greater freedom of movement, though more remained to be done to bring back normalcy to their lives. He expressed optimism about the constitution drafting process, which has the potential to bring an end to discord among communities.
Representative Bill Johnson said that the election of the current government had offered a lot of hope and provided a significant opportunity for Sri Lanka. He observed that the most significant way the government could fulfill its promises was perhaps a new constitution, which recognizes the country’s diverse populations and ensures greater civil and political equality for all. He echoed the Ambassador’s sentiments that cooperation and compromise on all sides were required for success. Representative Danny Davis welcomed the ongoing dialogue in Sri Lanka and emphasized the importance of looking forward to tomorrow rather than looking back at yesterday.
Embassy of Sri Lanka
June 20, 2016