Prime Minister and UPFA presidential candidate Mahinda Rajapakse pledged yesterday he would respect and treat all religions on an equal basis while according Buddhism its due place.
Addressing an election rally in the predominantly Christian area of Ja-ela, Mr. Rajapakse reiterated that as a good Buddhist he would honour all other religious and would not allow any discord.
Rejecting opposition charges that his policy would drag the country back into war, Mr. Rajapakse said he was looking for a new approach and new solution to the ethnic conflict but there would be no return to war.
Mr. Rajapakse also assured that the ceasefire agreement would be taken forward but major changes were required in it because of some unacceptable or absurd situations. He pointed out that while he had carpeted the road to Madhu, he could not go to that hallowed shrine without LTTE permission though he could go to any part of the world any time.
He said 25 parties including Tamil parties were supporting him and he would find a lasting and honourable peace within three months after winning the presidency.
Rejecting claims that he was a war monger, Mr. Rajapakse threw the charge back at the UNP leader and others who supported the US attacks on Iraq and the killings of thousands of people.
On the religious issue, Mr. Rajapakse said he believed religion was largely a matter of the heart and external conversions were meaningless. He said that from his schooldays and his Law College days he had developed a deep respect for the Christian faith and he had precious Christian friends.