Addressing the main function in Colombo to mark 72nd Independence day celebrations this morning, Rajapaksa said when the leader is elected following a legitimate process, he becomes the President of all and is not bound to serve only the interests of the people who voted for him. He added that as the President, he represents the entire Sri Lankan nation irrespective of ethnicity, religion, party affiliation or other differences.
President comments came as national anthem at the main ceremony was sung only in Sinhala and not in Tamil, as has been the tradition since 2016. Tamil political parties had demanded to keep both versions of national anthem. Mano Ganesan, a Tamil politician and former minister of national integration said the national anthem in Tamil is not just another song but the Sri Lankan identity of the Tamil speaking community.
President said Sri Lanka is a country that has been nurtured by the Buddhist philosophy but he will guarantee the freedom of all persons to follow the religion of their choice. He termed Sri Lanka as a unitary state at the very outset, as counter to demands of some Tamil politicians for federal concept. Rajapaksa asserted that they will not allow extremist organizations that pave the way for terrorism to further function in the country as thirty years of conflict and various other factors have delayed the progress of development of the country. This was the first Independence day speech of Gotabaya after he was elected President last November.