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Triumphant return for president who 'achieved a great victory' at UNHRC, as he pledges 'domestic inquiry'

Sri Lanka's President Maithripala Sirisena returned from his trip to the UN General Assembly in New York to a triumphant welcome, as Singhalese across the south celebrated the UNHRC resolution as a victory over the imposition of international involvement in a hybrid mechanism.

Huge crowds had gathered at the airport to receive the president, as Buddhist monks chanted and bestowed blessing on him.

Speaking soon after his arrival, President Sirisena said Sri Lanka "achieved a great victory", as the international community appreciated steps taken by the government to address human rights concerns, while the government succeeded in averting the "electric chair", an international investigation, and a hybrid special court in the resolution passed on Thursday.

“When I, try hard to save the country from this predicament, my opponents brand me a ‘Stooge of the America. But I will prove them that they are wrong and it was I and my government that saved them from the electric chair and the country from the international blacklist of war crimes,” he said.

The president vowed that the dignity of the forces and the country would be protected by himself and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

He said the judicial mechanism to be implemented will be a domestic one and not a hybrid, as recommended by the UN human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussain, and that Sri Lanka managed to remove the term 'hybrid' from the resolution. He pledged that any domestic mechanism with Sri Lankan as well as foreign judges, will conform with Sri Lanka's constitution.

“We did not achieve this under any pressure, stress or arm twisting. We told the global community in no uncertain terms that an international probe was unacceptable to us. We also told them that we were ready for a domestic probe within the constitutional framework of Sri Lanka. There will be no orders, no decrees in this exercise from any one. Therefore, Sri Lanka now can face the challenges and charges against her in a positive and optimistic frame of mind,” he said.

President Sirisena said this government was able to win over the international community within the last nine months by pledging inquire into the allegations of human rights violations and war crimes before a domestic tribunal under provisions of the country’s constitution.

The president claimed that "thirty-seven powerful pro-Eelam organisations" were opposed to the resolution.

“I will not be taking arbitrary decisions but will work in consultation. I take pity on those who accused us of being stooges of the West and of conspiring with overseas intelligence agencies. Thirty-seven powerful pro-Eelam organizations opposed the resolution. We must be mindful of these situations and conditions too. We have proven in the past eight months that we intend to establish democracy, good governance and promote peace and reconciliation and that we will continue to do so. We will not allow the country to be divided,” President Sirisena said.

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