Peace march to Jaffna
[TamilNet, Sunday, 21 April 2002, 23:17 GMT]
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe inaugurated a peace march from Kataragama to Jaffna, which set off Sunday afternoon. The 20-day, 560 km peace march began after religious ceremonies at a Buddhist temple in Kataragama, a pilgrim town in the deep south, about 160 km south-east of Colombo. The twenty-day peace march is taking the pinnacle to the newly built Chaithiya at a Buddhist temple in Jaffna.
Addressing a large crowd at the event, the Prime Minister said, "this is the last chance to achieve permanent peace in the country. The government and the LTTE should seize this opportunity to find a permanent political solution thus ensuring peace and harmony among all communities."
Mr.Wickremasinghe said, the government and the LTTE should find a political solution to the ethnic conflict through negotiations and stressed that the political solution will be found without affecting the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of the country.
"My government firmly believes that peace should be restored through an acceptable solution to all communities within a United Sri Lanka. My government would never divide the country. But the power will be devolved as the solution to the conflict," he said.
"The country is now divided. Before uniting the country, we must first work for bringing unity among various communities," added Mr.Ranil Wickremasinghe.
"In the past, efforts were taken to find solution to the conflict through military means. Now while strengthening the military we have taken steps to find a political solution through peace talks," the Prime Minister added.
"Majority of the people are against the war. However armed forces are placed on high alert to meet any contingency," Prime Minister stated.
The Mahanayake Thera of the Asgiriya Chapter Venerable Udugama Buddharakita Thera, the Chief Incumbent of the Jaffna Naga Vihare Venerable Gnanaretna Thera, the Diyawadane Nilame of Kandy Dalada Maligawe Mr.Niranjan Wijeratne and Ministers Dr. Jayalath Jayawardene and W.J.M.Loku Bandara also spoke.