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Remarks by H.E. Maithripala Sirisena, President of Sri Lanka, on the OGP Fifth Anniversary Event, Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Sri Lanka is one of the newest members of the Open Government Partnership and South Asia’s first, and I am happy to join you today to mark the Fifth Anniversary of this Partnership. I thank His Excellency Jacob Zuma, President of the Republic of South Africa, for inviting me to this important event.

As I am sure you are all aware, Sri Lanka is credited as being Asia’s oldest democracy. However, long years of conflict took a heavy toll on our institutions. Soon after the conflict ended in May 2009, we failed to take immediate steps to begin a programme of true reconciliation, and work on rebuilding our institutions, and strengthening good governance, democracy and the rule of law.

Against this backdrop, a coalition was formed to contest the Presidential Election in January 2015 and I contested as the Common Opposition Candidate. Our campaign was based broadly on good governance, democracy, reconciliation, rule of law, justice, human rights and development.

With the success achieved at this election, and the Parliamentary Election in August last year, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and I brought the two main political parties in my country together to form a National Unity Government for the first time in our nation’s history. This was done with the aim of providing the necessary political and policy stability required for strengthening democracy, forging reconciliation, and taking steps for inclusive and equitable development in my country, and providing transparent, accountable and participatory government that our people expect and deserve.

It is this decisive step that enabled us to join the Open Government Partnership which brings Governments and Civil Society together on a single platform, to pursue good governance goals including, most importantly, anti-corruption.

In June this year, the Parliament of Sri Lanka approved the Right to Information (RTI) Bill, which is now an Act of Parliament. We have also recognised the Right to Information as a Fundamental Right through the 19th Amendment to the Constitution enacted last year.

We are in the process of taking steps to significantly strengthen anti-corruption efforts, not only in the area of enforcement but in prevention as well.

The Cabinet of Ministers just this month, approved Sri Lanka’s first OGP National Action Plan formulated through a process of wide consultations. The Plan includes measurable commitments in the areas of health, education, information and communication technology, environment, local government, anti-corruption, the Right to Information and women’s issues.

Our Parliament also approved the ratification of the Paris Agreement earlier this month, and I am happy, as one of the few Heads of State and Government who also hold the portfolio of Environment, to deposit the Instrument of Ratification tomorrow.

We remain firm in our commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda. We see these goals as being clearly in line with the vision we have for our nation’s progress and prosperity including sustainable and durable peace and prosperity.

I look forward to working together with all of you towards achieving these important goals both for Sri Lanka and for the world.

Thank you!

Open Government Partnership