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Keen on solving conflict with minority Tamil community by year-end, says Sri Lankan President

Sri Lanka president

Colombo: Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe said that he is looking forward to settling the conflict with the minority Tamil community in the country by the end of 2023.

In his message to mark International Workers' Day, he said that he expects to reach an agreement by the end of this year to solve the long-drawn ethnic conflict. He highlighted that the government is committed to policies that benefit all communities in the island nation. "I hope to be able to come to some agreement by this year-end. We should not undermine any community. We must move forward protecting the Sinhala majority, Tamil, Muslim, Burgher, and other minority groups. We must be dedicated to achieving that."

He also stressed the need to fully implement the 13th Amendment to the Constitution to grant political autonomy to the minority Tamils. The 13A provides for the devolution of power to the Tamil community in Sri Lanka. It was part of the Indo-Sri Lankan agreement of 1987.

The Sinhala majority of Sri Lanka was against 13A saying that it would lead to the separation of Tamil regions to form their own state. Sinhalese make up 75% of the 22 million population of the island nation. Tamils make up 15%.

The three-decade-long brutal civil war with Lankan Tamils in the North and East has been one of the biggest troubles in the country. At least 100,000 people have died in the violence associated with the conflict.

Wickremesinghe also stressed that the country can only move forward with the IMF bailout. "The country could only move forward with the IMF programme if two conditions are fulfilled. One is that we must resolve the ethnic conflict. We are continuing our talks on this."

Speaking about Sri Lanka's progress after the unprecedented economic crisis and political turmoil, he said: "We have created economic stability. No food shortages now. Democracy is being practised in the country. Parliament meets without threats. All are free to carry out their work without any hindrance."

"Our next task is to implement the agreement reached with the IMF. We will make the necessary legislation and restore normalcy to the economy by 2024. Sri Lanka must try to achieve 6-7% GDP growth. The youth have stressed a change in the economic system. We must listen to them," said the President.

In March 2022, the IMF agreed to release a $2.9 billion bailout over four years.

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TAGS:Ranil WickremesingheSri Lankan PresidentTamil community in Sri Lankaethnic conflict in Sri Lanka
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