Colombo: Days after Sri Lanka formed its first unity government, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena today said he is ready to shed all differences with the rival UNP to "herald an era of a new political culture".
Recalling the rivalry between his Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and the United National Party (UNP) - to which Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe belongs, Sirisena said many lives had been lost over the last 5-6 decades due to this bitter fight.
"I will be too glad to join the Prime Minister Wickremesinghe to shed all our differences and to herald an era of a new political culture," he said as he addressed the 69th?anniversary of the UNP.
He became the first leader of the party's archfoe Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) to address a convention of the UNP.
The two parties have remained bitter political rivals while taking turns in governing the country since independence from Britain in 1948.
The two former rival parties formed a national unity government on Friday after last month's parliamentary election and have shared portfolios in a Cabinet headed by Sirisena.
Sirisena said he and Wickremesinghe were determined to implement the reforms which they set to achieve after the January 8 presidential election.
He also said Sri Lanka's new unity government faces challenges from overseas as well as within the country, in an apparent reference to the Mahinda Rajapaksa government as he addressed the 69th anniversary of the UNP.
"We are aware that some elements overseas are working against the country while those who support the former regime are also trying to reverse what we aim to achieve," he said.
Sirisena was backed by the UNP against the incumbent Rajapaksa.
The former President, who sacked Sirisena as his Health Minister and from the party membership, promptly handed over the SLFP leadership after he lost to Sirisena.Sirisena's reference to Rajapaksa loyalists of trying to reverse his agenda has come in the light of the former strongman's supporters in the SLFP parliamentary group opting to stay in opposition without supporting the unity government.