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Home >> World
UPDATED: 17:17, January 01, 2006
Sri Lankan president calls for national unity
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Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse has called for national unity in order to overcome problems and challenges left unresolved over several decades.

Rajapakse said Sunday in a New Year's Day speech that he would face the challenges and find solutions to all problems in the coming year.

"People chose me to be their leader to face these challenges and steer the country ahead," Rajapakse said referring to his election as the president last November.

Without making any direct reference to the separatist armed struggle waged by the Tamil Tigers to secure autonomy for the minority Tamil community in the north and east provinces, the Sri Lankan president said that "the problems remain unresolved over decades."

He urged the Sri Lankans to unite in order to solve the problems.

Rajapakse has vowed to continue the Norwegian-backed peace process with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) despite continued acts of violence by the Tigers that are endangering the ongoing ceasefire.

Some 40 soldiers were killed by the LTTE through claymore mine explosions during December, the highest number since the cease- fire came into force in February 2002.

Rajapakse, despite being viewed hawkish in his approach toward the separatist conflict due to his alliances with ultra nationalist groups, has shown that he is for a negotiated settlement to end the conflict that has claimed over 64,000 lives since the mid 1980s.

The Sri Lankan president invited people to think the new in order to help him end the separatist war and rebuild the country.

Source: Xinhua

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