Sri Lanka is set to celebrate its 70th Independence Anniversary on a grandiose note under the theme, ‘One Nation’ at the Galle Face Green, today. Several dignitaries including high commissioners, ambassadors and religious dignitaries have been invited for the occasion. The British Royal family will also be represented by Queen Elizabeth’s youngest son Prince Edward, [...]


Independence Day celebrations on a grand scale today


Sri Lanka is set to celebrate its 70th Independence Anniversary on a grandiose note under the theme, ‘One Nation’ at the Galle Face Green, today.
Several dignitaries including high commissioners, ambassadors and religious dignitaries have been invited for the occasion. The British Royal family will also be represented by Queen Elizabeth’s youngest son Prince Edward, the Earl of Wessex and his wife Countess Sophie.
As in past years, the celebrations will begin on a religious note with early morning religious observances in designated temples, kovils, churches and mosques in Colombo city.

In a separate function at Independence Square, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya will place a floral tribute at the statute of D.S. Senanayake, the first Prime Minister of the country. At the Galle Face Green all invitees including the Governor Western Province, Home Affairs Minister, Chief Justice, Speaker and foreign dignitaries will assemble around 8.30 a.m. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is scheduled to arrive around 8.40 a.m. followed by President Maithripala Sirisena who will be escorted to the main flag post by the Chief of Defence Staff, the three Service Commanders and the Inspector General of Police.

The programme proper begins with the national anthem being sung in Sinhala by 110 schoolchildren from 10 schools in and around Colombo including Museaus College, Anula Vidyalaya, Vishaka Vidyalaya, Sirimavo Bandaranaike Vidyalaya, Devi Balika Vidyalaya, Ramanathan Hindu College, Zahira College, Royal College, Ananda College and Nalanda College.

President Sirisena will then be escorted to the special dais and the jaya mangala gatha and the devo vasathu kalena will be sung by schoolgirls.
Around 9.05 a.m. a two-minute silence will be observed in honour of all those who laid down their lives for the country. The silence will be broken by a 21-gun salute followed by the address to the nation by the President.

The march past will comprise 3,620 Army personnel, 1,249 Navy personnel, 830 Air Force personnel, 800 police personnel, 505 Civil Security Force personnel and 100 National Cadet Corps members.

The cultural pageant that follows will include more than 500 dancers and musicians performing a mix of multi-cultural dances and music of Sri Lanka. The pageant will conclude with the national anthem sung in Tamil by schoolchildren. The programme will conclude with a 25-gun salute to the nation by the Sri Lanka Navy.

Traffic arrangements for today
The Traffic Police have made special arrangements around the Galle Face area. Accordingly, the section from the Galle Face roundabout to Old Parliament roundabout (NSA Roundabout) and from NSA roundabout to Ceramic Junction on to Lotus Road will be closed until 12 noon.
A section of the road from the Slave Island railway station area to the Galle Face roundabout and the Macan Markar Road, will be closed.
Traffic on the road from Kollupitiya Junction to the Galle Face roundabout will be restricted.

DIG Police, Traffic and Road Safety, L.S. Pathinayake called on motorists to use alternative routes and to avoid Slave Island and Kollupitiya areas.
Traffic movement will also be restricted from Kollupitiya Junction to Galle Face roundabout, and from Kollupitiya St. Michael’s to Galle Road.
Around 3,500 police personnel have been deployed for traffic management and overall security.

York Street to Bank of Ceylon Mawatha, Ceynor Junction to Fort CTO Junction, Fort CTO Junction to Ceramic Junction, Khan Roundabout to Fort, Macan Markar Road to Galle Face roundabout near the Slave Island railway station, Gamini Junction to D.R. Wijewardene Mawatha and Slave Island Police Junction to the Regal roundabout will remain closed, or traffic will be restricted. Motorists are advised to use the alternative routes through W.A.Silva Mawatha in Wellwatte via Havelock Road, Thimbirigasyaya, Thunmulla towards Town Hall.

Heavy vehicles leaving Colombo are advised to use the route through Thunmulla Junction, and Duplication Road.


Independence day messages
n Our strength is our unity, determination – President Maithripala Sirisena
As Sri Lanka celebrates seven decades of independence, it is appropriate to reflect on how far we have come as a nation. In terms of achieving human development, and various social, economic, and political challenges we were faced with, the progress we have achieved over this period is laudable.

We must also remember that true freedom does not comprise only of political freedom. Our independence is not complete until economic and cultural freedom is achieved. In our journey towards economic freedom, this year is a crucial one.

As a country, our future successes lie in our commitment to achieve long term goals with determination, as we have done in the past. Completion of the Moragahakanda reservoir as the last massive step in the Mahaweli development programme is a testimony to our perseverance and commitment to meet such long term goals. This year has been declared as the “National Food Production Year”, with hopes to reach the goal of food security, a dream that our nation has had since independence.

On this occasion that we celebrate seven decades of independence, I pledge to fulfil all my duties towards mother Lanka, and emphasise that our true strength is our unity and determination.

n Reflect on legacy as a free nation – Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe
This year, we celebrate 70 years of independence from colonial rule. It is an occasion for us to remember that we were only able to achieve independence with the participation of all communities coming together towards a common goal.

It is our responsibility to keep in mind that true independence is only possible when we can unite as one nation, rising above political, religious and ethnic differences.
Under a theme of One Nation, the 70th independence day celebrations that are held today, reflect our legacy as a free nation. My hope is to see all Sri Lanka unite as one to sustain freedom for all.

n Independence for future generations – Speaker Karu Jayasuriya
The history of our motherland is decorated with the sacrifices of great individuals who fought determinedly for its freedom. The ideals of these leaders, who belonged to Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim communities, should be remembered on the occasion we celebrate the 70th anniversary of our independence from colonial rule.

We must also use the occasion to reflect on matters that prevented the Sri Lankan nation from fully enjoying the benefits of independence during this period.

n A lasting solution through a new constitution – Leader of the Opposition R. Sampanthan
We are at a crucial juncture of our history as we celebrate seventy years of independence. As a country, we have not been able to enjoy the true benefits of the independence in the past.

As a result of the unresolved national question, we have faced the lack of peace and harmony and development of the country. The ethnic issue has widened the gap between communities and has caused distrust and disunity amongst our people.
Therefore, I urge all political parties and leaders to cooperate to adopt a new constitution– a constitution that will genuinely address the root causes of the conflict and preserve the dignity of every citizen of this country.

n Leaders who worked tirelessly and dedicated their lives – Minister of Home Affairs Vajira Abeywardena
We commemorate, at this point of time, the national leaders who dedicated their lives and worked tirelessly to gain independence for our motherland during this era with immense respect and a true sense of sovereignty of Sri Lanka.

We have a proud history which is closely knitted with the village, irrigation, and religious places of worship. Therefore, we Sri Lankans who inherit such a proud history step into the 70th year of independence with pride as an independent and sovereign nation.
n Congratulations! Hope connections between our people flourish – Queen Elizabeth II

It gives me great pleasure to send to your excellency my congratulations on the occasion of the celebration by Sri Lanka of the seventieth anniversary of independence. The relationship between our two countries has continued to grow, and it is my hope that the connections between our people continue to flourish in the years to come.

Although I am unable to be with you as you mark this historic moment, I am very pleased that the Earl and Countess of Wessex are able to represent me and to join you in celebrating all that the people of Sri Lanka have achieved in the past 70 years.

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