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President pays tribute to late R. Sampanthan, advocates unity for all Sri Lankans

July 08, Colombo (LNW): President Ranil Wickremesinghe honoured the late R. Sampanthan, former Leader of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and former Leader of the Opposition, recognising him as a champion of the rights of not only the Tamil community but all Sri Lankans.

He highlighted that both he and Sampanthan were committed to the vision of an undivided Sri Lanka and urged for the continuation of the discussions initiated with the late TNA Leader.

These remarks were made by the President while attending Sampanthan’s funeral at his residence in Trincomalee this yesterday (07).

The ceremony honoured the former Leader of the Opposition and member of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), as well as the late Trincomalee District Member of Parliament, and was attended by numerous political figures from both the government and opposition.

Wickremesinghe expressed his sorrow over the loss of Sampanthan, describing him as a long-time friend.

The President reiterated his commitment to addressing the issues faced by the Tamil people, which Sampanthan had tirelessly advocated for. He also announced that the draft of the National Land Commission Bill is ready to be presented to Parliament.

This commission will have the authority to resolve land issues affecting the Sinhalese, Tamil, and Muslim communities, in coordination with the Department of Forest.

The President praised Sampanthan’s role as Leader of the Opposition, noting that an opposition leader is essentially an alternative prime minister.

He commended Sampanthan for addressing the concerns of all Sri Lankans, not just the Tamil community.

On the subject of upcoming elections, President Wickremesinghe stated that despite any court challenges, the presidential election will be held this year.

Arrangements will be made to conduct parliamentary and provincial council elections subsequently.

Addressing the funeral gathering, the President shared memories of his friendship and professional relationship with Sampanthan, spanning several decades.

He recalled their early days in Parliament and their collaborative efforts in addressing the issues of the Tamil community post-2009.

He emphasised that Sampanthan never sought a separate state but always advocated for unity and resolving the Tamil people’s problems.

The President highlighted their joint efforts in past elections and Sampanthan’s steadfast commitment to a united Sri Lanka.

Wickremesinghe reiterated the need to continue and conclude the discussions initiated with Sampanthan. He outlined the government’s plans to implement the 13th amendment, hold provincial council elections, and address the issues raised by the Jana Sabha system and the Nawaz Commission report.

The President concluded his speech by calling for collective support to complete the important work started with Sampanthan, reaffirming their shared vision of an undivided Sri Lanka.

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