Sri Lankan Presidential elections
After an intensive and well-conducted election with strong participation from all regions of the country, albeit with some outbursts of violence, the Sri Lankan people have given victory to Maithripala Sirisena, the surprise challenger to the incumbent Mahindra Rajapaksa.
On behalf of the Friends of Sri Lanka in the European Parliament, Geoffrey Van Orden commented:
"We send our congratulations to President Maithripala Sirisena on his great achievement in winning the Presidential Election. At the same time we acknowledge the contribution made by his predecessor in defeating terrorism and injecting new life into the Sri Lankan economy.
"President Sirisena drew support from the wide range of communities in Sri Lanka - Sinhalese and Tamil, Buddhist, Hindu, Moslem and Christian - and his declared mission is to overcome the divisions of the past and build a united, vibrant and prosperous country of which all law-abiding citizens can feel part. We shall do all that we can to support him in this.
"Many of the outside criticisms of Sri Lanka have been misguided in recent years but we trust that the Western democracies and organisations such as the Commonwealth and the EU will now engage fully and actively to assist Sri Lanka in every possible way.
"For its part, the EU could help by rapid resolution of difficulties over Sri Lankan fish exports and by restoration of GSP+ favourable trade status.
"We welcome indications that President Sirisena will seek to rebalance Sri Lankan foreign and economic policy more favourably towards the democracies. We must help him in this.
"We call upon all the people of Sri Lankan origin who are now citizens of Western countries to give positive support to the new Sri Lankan President as he faces the challenges ahead. We note that the markets have already given him a strong endorsement."