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Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) Chairman and President Maithripala Sirisena waving to thousands of enthusiastic and fervent party supporters who participated in the SLFP’s 66th Anniversary Convention at Campbell Park, Borella yesterday.Pictures by Sudath Silva.

President Maithripala Sirisena said that many international allegations, especially the allegations levelled on human right violations were mitigated by implementing a new political culture through the Unity Government.

The President added that with the forming of the Unity Government, the country showcased to the world that human-rights, democracy, equality, ethnic harmony and many more advanced human qualities had been established.

Several sanctions had been imposed against Sri Lanka when the Unity Government was formed ie; European Union fish ban and curtailing of GSP Plus concessions. However,as a result of the people-friendly and democratic governance of the Unity Government, those sanctions were lifted.

“As we were able to strengthen democracy and protect human rights, many world leaders extended their fullest support to Sri Lanka’s foward march,” the President said.

President Sirisena was addressing the Sri Lanka Freedom Party’s 66th Anniversary Convention under the theme ‘Janabalaya Hari Athata’ at Campbell Park, Borella yesterday.

Addressing the huge gathering, the President stressed that no one will be allowed to bring the War Heroes, who were actively involved in defending and safeguarding the country’s territorial integrity and sovereignty into disrepute.

“I will never allow anyone including international elements to harass not only former Army Commander Lt.Gen.Jagath Jayasuriya but any War Hero. I never dance to the tune of NGOs, which have become a cat’s paw of LTTE supporters. Lt. General Jayasooriya’s case is an international issue,” the President said.

The President highlighted that when looking from a global context, every political party unites when a country has to overcome a challenge.

“It can be observed that our challenges and threats were overcome by uniting and setting aside minor issues. That is the concept of the Unity Government. The Unity Government was formed with the United National Party to overcome several international challenges,” the President said.

The President pointed out that Sri Lanka was defeated at international councils including the United Nations’ Human Right Council.

“The country was side-lined,” he said.

The President reminded the people to think of the fate the nation would have faced if he was not elected as the country’s President in 2015.

President Sirisena said that he was able to protect democracy in the SLFP unlike in the past when no one dared to speak against the decisions of the then Chairman at party meetings including the Central Committee Meeting.Everone is free to air their views in the SLFP today.

President Sirisena said that the SLFP will undergo radical change and will be transformed into a vibrant political force which would help it regain its past glory.

“The SLFP should be further strengthened as it is a people-friendly party aiming to achieve future political victories,” the President said.

This year’s SLFP Convention which coincides with President Mathiripala Sirisena’s 66th birthday, started at around 2.30 pm with the multi-religious observances and the singing of the SLFP theme song.

SLFP General Secretary Duminda Dissanayake pledged to make the party a pure, corrupt-free, progressive and democratic political force that could emerge victorious.

SLFP leaders including former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga and former Prime Minister D.M.Jayaratne too were in attendance. Representatives from 42 political parties also attended the Convention.

Former Prime Minister late S.W.R.D Bandaranaike was the founding leader of the SLFP. Since its inception in 1951, the party’s base has been the ‘Pancha Maha Balawegaya’ (Five Great Forces) comprised of the ‘Sanga, Weda, Guru, Govi and Kamkaru’ (Buddhist monks, native doctors, teachers, farmers and workers).

The SLFP which first came to power in 1956 and has been in Government on a number of occasions contributing to the country’s development.