Whatever the Joint Opposition or extremist critics may say President Maithripala Sirisena from January 8, 2015 has lead Sri Lanka to a new chapter in its history with the two major parties working together in a National Government mainly to bring about dialogue and reconciliation among the different communities in Sri Lanka. The other major goal, in the plan, outlined in Vision 2025, is sustainable economic development that will be eco-friendly and all inclusive with the aim of building a just, peaceful and an all inclusive society.
For these and other values or virtues—including the President’s skill for peaceful conflict resolution by accommodation on the middle path, the Oslo Peace Research Institute has shortlisted President Sirisena for the Noble Peace Prize, 2017.
No other Sri Lankan has been shortlisted for the world’s most prestigious peace prize and it is a great honour to the country.
We hope all parties and people of all races and religions will appreciate and applaud this honour without allowing vices like jealousy or envy to provoke criticism.
As the President himself told the United Nations General Assembly in New York last week, he could claim to be the world’s only Executive President who voluntarily and willingly agreed to slash his powers in April, 2015.
According to reports from Oslo, PRIO Director Henrik Urdal will publish an updated shortlist before the official announcement of this year’s winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.
The PRIO in its website says it conducts research on the conditions for peaceful relations between States, groups and people. Based on independent assessments, PRIO Directors have offered their personal shortlists for the Nobel Peace Prize each year since 2002.
Anyone can be nominated, but only a number of people have the right to nomination, including members of national assemblies and Governments, current and former members of the Committee, Peace Prize laureates, Professors of certain disciplines, directors of peace research, foreign policy institutes and members of international courts, PRIO says.
As such, the PRIO Director holds the right to nominate but refrains, given his active role as a commentator.
The laureate is normally announced on the Friday of the first full week of October.
Besides President Sirisena, the shortlisted nominees are; the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and its leader Susan Herman, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Syrian Civil Defence Unit the White Helmets and Raed al Saleh, Jeanne Nacatche Banyere, Jeannette Kahindo Bindu and Dr. Denis Mukwege-who work to help rape victims in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Giving reasons why it nominated President Sirisena, the PRIO says he has initiated comprehensive reconciliatory measures to heal the wounds of 30-year civil war. President Sirisena’s insistence on inclusive reconciliation therefore, stands out as an example to be followed.
In early 2017, the Sri Lankan Consultation Task Force on Reconciliation Mechanisms released its final report. This goes hand in hand with a range of other efforts, including a consultative process on Constitutional reform.
Resistance from the political opposition is real and so are the prospects for failure.
The President himself is susceptible to criticism, having held posts with the former Government that overran the LTTE. A Nobel Peace Prize to President Sirisena would fit a tradition of honouring pragmatic leaders, who show political courage and it would draw attention to reconciliation as a key to sustainable peace, PRIO says.
The Nobel Prize winner will be announced next Friday and we join the people in hoping and praying that President Sirisena, whether he gets it or not, will maintain the great values and virtues mentioned in the citation to lead Sri Lanka to be a model for Asia.