Sarath Fonseka: Sri Lanka is in danger of winning the war but losing the peace

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The Independent Online

I come before you today, not as a politician with years of experience, but as someone with a lifelong commitment to safeguarding the country. It was this commitment that saw me leading the security forces to a decisive military victory over the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, which many said was not possible. Of course, victory would not have been possible without the commitment of the three forces, the police and the civil defence force, many of who made the ultimate sacrifice with their lives.

The victory we secured for all Sri Lankans was not an end in itself. It was the decisive beginning towards restoring peace that would enable us to re-build the country and put it firmly on the path to economic recovery and development. We owed this to the general public who gave us the moral support and patiently endured many economic hardships. We owed this to the soldiers who sacrificed their lives and those who suffered permanent disabilities. We even owed the international community that supported the war against terrorism.

Sadly, this hasn't happened. Nearly eight months after victory was declared, the incumbent regime is continuing to glorify the military triumph as a personal achievement at the expense of the follow-up needed – that of reconciliation, peace building, infrastructure development and economic resuscitation. It has effectively managed to place the nation in a time warp of victory euphoria.

The nation's wealth is being squandered on self-perpetuating projects that are both wasteful and meaningless. Billions have been lost due to corruption, nepotism, mismanagement and waste. Public funds are being used to sustain and nurture a single family.

The goodwill of the international community has been destroyed, so much so the US and the European Union have become our harshest critics. The economy is in ruins.

Under the guise of security, our citizens are increasingly being denied their democratic freedoms. Dissent has been suppressed, sometimes violently, with the independent media and its journalists coming under frequent threats and attack.

Taken from a speech given by Sri Lanka's opposition presidential candidate to business leaders in Colombo yesterday