Foremost place to Buddhism,equal rights to all will be guaranteed- PM

The foremost place accorded to Buddhism and the right to equality in the Constitution should be guaranteed without causing conflict, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said yesterday.

The Prime Minister said it is done in some other countries such as in South Africa without causing any conflict.

Prime Minister Wicremesinghe added that in those countries too, the foremost place is accorded to one religion while assuring to religious freedom and rights of other religions.

The Premier was speaking at the launch of the National Policy on Reconcilliation and Co-Existance in Sri Lanka and the premiere of the film "Thundenek" at the Regal Cinema yesterday.

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe further said that according to the Mahawansa, some kings had united the country. He added that they had united various races and religions. "There was Theravada Buddhism practised in the country while there were other religions like Jainism as well," the Prime Minister said.

"Thereafter, Hinduism arrived followed by Islam and other religions. Today, we have an office for reconcilliation." The Premier said the country faced a terrorist war for three decades which brought death and destruction.

He added that a mandate was given to Maithripala Sirisena on January 8 to bring about reconcilliation.

The Prime Minister added that an office has also been set up for this purpose and the National Policy was also launched yesterday.

"This is not the end of reconcilliation and co-existance," Premier Wickremesinghe said.

"This is but the begining of an arduos journey to strengthen reconcilliation and we have to achieve it." The Premier added that the people of different communities fear that these processes would be prejudiced against them. "The Sinhala people think that there is no other land for them and those from Jaffna think that they would loose theirs,' Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said. "We have to pay attention to their fears when we find solutions to their issues." President Maithripala Sirisena who participated as the Chief Guest delivered the key-note address while former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga in her capacity as the Chairpersom of the Office for National Unity and Reconcilliation delivered the welcome speech.

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