World

Sri Lanka's leader acknowledges country not united since end of war, calls for reconciliation

  • Commanders of security forces stand behind as Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena gestures to show respect after the national anthem is played during Independence Day celebrations in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015. Sri Lanka has failed to heal its deep ethnic divide since the end of the nation's civil war five years ago, the president acknowledged Wednesday in a major speech calling for national reconciliation. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

    Commanders of security forces stand behind as Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena gestures to show respect after the national anthem is played during Independence Day celebrations in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015. Sri Lanka has failed to heal its deep ethnic divide since the end of the nation's civil war five years ago, the president acknowledged Wednesday in a major speech calling for national reconciliation. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)  (The Associated Press)

  • Sri Lankan army soldiers march during Independence Day celebrations in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015. Sri Lanka has failed to heal its deep ethnic divide since the end of the nation's civil war five years ago, the president acknowledged Wednesday in a major speech calling for national reconciliation. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

    Sri Lankan army soldiers march during Independence Day celebrations in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015. Sri Lanka has failed to heal its deep ethnic divide since the end of the nation's civil war five years ago, the president acknowledged Wednesday in a major speech calling for national reconciliation. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)  (The Associated Press)

  • Sri Lankan ethnic Tamil dancers from northern province perform during Independence Day celebrations in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015. Sri Lanka has failed to heal its deep ethnic divide since the end of the nation's civil war five years ago, the president acknowledged Wednesday in a major speech calling for national reconciliation. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

    Sri Lankan ethnic Tamil dancers from northern province perform during Independence Day celebrations in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015. Sri Lanka has failed to heal its deep ethnic divide since the end of the nation's civil war five years ago, the president acknowledged Wednesday in a major speech calling for national reconciliation. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)  (The Associated Press)

Sri Lanka's president says country has not been able to unite the hearts and minds of ethnic groups despite ending a decades-old civil war five years ago.

In his Independence Day address Wednesday, President Maithripala Sirisena called on all political leaders to ask themselves what went wrong in the 67 years since independence from Britain.

The conciliatory speech was sharply different from the years since the civil war ended in 2009 when glorification of the military victory took center stage.

A "declaration of peace" was also read out paying respect to all ethnic groups killed in the civil war with a pledge not to allow violence to recur.