Give us space to resolve our problems, says Sirisena at UN

Sri Lanka does not want any foreign power exerting influence, President Maithripala Sirisena has said, while appealing to the international community for “room to resolve” the country’s problems. Mr. Sirisena made the remarks while addressing the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. “As an independent country, we do not want any foreign power to exert influence on us,” he said, asking for the “right of the Sri Lankan people to find solutions” to be respected. His statement comes weeks after the island’s main Tamil party accused him of interfering in the investigation of a top military officer’s alleged link to a suspect involved in the case of 11 youth being kidnapped and murdered in the final years of the civil war. “We are very concerned at such political interference from the highest level,” Tamil National Alliance (TNA) spokesman M.A. Sumanthiran had said, after Mr. Sirisena held an “emergency Cabinet meeting” to discuss the matter. The Tamil lawmaker also sought an international element in probing wartime excesses, citing his waning faith in domestic processes. Praises armed forces While Mr. Sirisena had earlier said that he would make a strong case at the UN for members of armed forces to be exonerated from war crimes blame, he stopped with hailing the soldiers’ “immense contribution” to building “lasting peace”. Observing that his government had done well to address post-war concerns, Mr. Sirisena said: “I request the international community to look at Sri Lanka in a new perspective and with new ideas… with respect, my request here is to let us solve our problems.”

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