UPFA Presidential candidate Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse has told Colombo Archbishop Oswald Gomis that he read with sorrow a letter of the Archbishop reproduced in some national newspapers.
In a letter addressed to Archbishop Gomis Mr. Rajapakse said it was particularly sad that this letter appeared along with an advertisement designed to encourage the citizens to vote against him at the upcoming Presidential election.
The letter said: ?Your letter suggests that `some radical and extremist elements are rejecting this path and paving the way for war. I am not sure whether you were referring to one of the parties allied with me. Again, later in your letter there is mention of what could be seen as another of my allies, in the context of religious freedom.? In this regard I should make it clear that as my manifesto indicates, I will safeguard the rights of all religions, as I enunciated clearly at my meeting with the JHU at the Dalada Maligawa,? Mr. Rajapakse said in his letter.
The letter goes on: ?I agree with you that `a nation could be built only on mutual confidence, love, maithri and deep respect for each other and not on hatred or violence` but I would add that duplicity should also be avoided.?
?With regard to the contents of your letter, I agree strongly with the points you make, as I hope is apparent from my manifesto. With regard to the ceasefire, which it has been suggested I wish to abrogate, I have only made it clear that it should `be amended so as to ensure that acts of terrorism would not be permitted in any way.` I believe continuing killings, and the smuggling in of arms, should be prevented, as was orginally envisaged, and I am sure you share my beliefs in this regard. However, as my manifesto makes clear, I am committed to discussion, including direct talks with the LTTE, and maximising devolution within a democratic framework.?
?I should add that we are fully committed to the UN Declaration of Human Rights, which you mention. The second sentence in my manifesto affirms my determination that `children of all religions would be able to obtain an education in keeping with their religious beliefs.` And, far from engaging in meaningless gestures where size is equated with spirituality, I am committed to rebuilding all religious places damaged by the tsunami, not simply those of particular religions. I would also draw your attention to the specia1 attention I will give to the Madhu Church sanctuary (in addition to already rebuilding the road) in view of its unique spiritual status.
?Unfortunately, my opponents seem determined not to accept that my allies all subscribe fully to my manifesto. Though some of them may have different ideas, they all realize that, in participating in government, compromise and consensus are essential. As we have pointed out, in response to the question as to whether I can achieve my vision in a coalition, it is better to have the cooperation of others so we can discuss matters, rather than treat them as enemies. And it should noted that we found a very helpful spirit of compromise in preparing the manifesto, and as you can see, the question of any anti-conversion bill has not even been raised.?