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Sri Lanka

CrisisWatch Sri Lanka

Improved Situation

Constitutional and political crisis ended as President Sirisena reappointed deposed PM Ranil Wickremesinghe to office 16 Dec, following Supreme Court rulings blocking Sirisena’s attempt to install former President Mahinda Rajapaksa as PM and call early general elections, in developments hailed as significant victory for rule of law and parliamentary democracy. Court of Appeal 3 Dec issued interim order blocking Rajapaksa and his ministers from holding office, following petition by 122 parliamentarians who had passed two no confidence motions against Rajapaksa in Nov (which Sirisena had refused to recognise). Wickremesinghe won 12 Dec confidence vote in parliament with 117-0 majority, after Rajapaksa supporters boycotted parliamentary session following 29 Nov vote to deny PM’s office funding. Supreme Court 13 Dec unanimously ruled Sirisena did not have power to dissolve parliament before it had completed its four-and-a-half year term, thus voiding Sirisena’s 9 Nov dissolution and call for snap elections. Supreme Court 14 Dec refused to overturn Court of Appeal’s 3 Dec interim order. Bowing to Supreme Court’s two rulings, Rajapaksa 15 Dec “resigned” disputed position as PM; week-long dispute between Sirisena and Wickremesinghe over ministerial portfolios delayed finalisation of new Wickremesinghe-led United National Front govt. At Wickremesinghe’s 16 Dec swearing-in as PM, Sirisena repeated attacks on Wickremesinghe’s honesty and suitability for role, while Rajapaksa in 15 Dec “resignation speech” vowed to “bring the forces opposed to the country down to their knees” and singled out Tamil National Alliance for criticism, cementing fears among observers that political blockages that led to attempted constitutional coup remain in place. Economic fallout of political turmoil and uncertainty continued, including decline in value of currency, suspension of several key foreign loans and grants; ratings agencies 4 Dec downgraded country’s credit. Buddhist-Muslim tensions rose following 26 Dec vandalism of several Buddha statues in Mawanella area; nine Muslim youth arrested in subsequent days.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

24 Jun 2018
It is particularly damaging that the reasons the U.S. Government gave for leaving the Human Rights Council – for being hypocritical and biased, echo so closely criticisms that the previous Sri Lankan Government and many Lankan politicians in opposition and in the current Government have made about the Council’s engagement with and resolutions on Sri Lanka. The U.S. withdrawal will have lasting damage and will strengthen governments and politicians across the globe who prefer to be left to their own devices, even when this involves violating the fundamental rights of their own citizens. Sunday Observer

Alan Keenan

Project Director, Sri Lanka
8 Mar 2018
There is good reason to believe [the Sinhala Buddhists attacks in Sri Lanka] are partly designed to provoke a Muslim response, which would then justify more violence against Muslims. Al Jazeera

Alan Keenan

Project Director, Sri Lanka
6 Mar 2018
Many Sinhalese and Buddhists have [the sense] that Sri Lanka [is a] Sinhala and Buddhist island, and [that] other communities are here on the sufferance of the majority. The Guardian

Alan Keenan

Project Director, Sri Lanka
18 Feb 2018
The [Sri Lankan] government will need to figure out how to come together. They need to go back to the drawing board and return to their fundamental principles and start to deliver. CNN

Alan Keenan

Project Director, Sri Lanka
15 Feb 2018
[Former Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa] has a strong core constituency and a good set of issues, whereas the government has to pull together a range of minority constituents. The Economist

Alan Keenan

Project Director, Sri Lanka
7 Nov 2017
2017 has seen a worrisome return of violence and hate speech in Sri Lanka. U.S. News

Alan Keenan

Project Director, Sri Lanka

Latest Updates

Watch List 2018 – First Update

Crisis Group’s first update to our Watch List 2018 includes entries on Burundi’s dangerous referendum, militant Buddhists and anti-Muslim violence in Sri Lanka, the impact of the Venezuelan crisis on the region, and the situation in Yemen. This annual early-warning report identifies conflict situations in which prompt action by the European Union and its member states would generate stronger prospects for peace.

Op-Ed / Asia

Sri Lanka’s Transition to Nowhere

The bloom is off two years of hope that the rule of law can be restored for all and that a 60-year failure to grant Tamils a fair share of power, in the Sinhala majority island, can be rectified.
 

 

Originally published in The Diplomat Magazine

Op-Ed / Asia

Unfinished Business in Sri Lanka

Originally published in Inside Story

Commentary / Asia

Impunity and Justice: Why the UN Human Rights Council Must Stay Engaged in Sri Lanka

As the United Nations Human Rights Council meets in Geneva this month, it’s time to assess how far Sri Lanka has come since last year’s passage of a landmark resolution to promote reconciliation, accountability and human rights.

Op-Ed / Asia

Time to seize the moment in Sri Lanka

Originally published in Inside Story

Our People

Alan Keenan

Project Director, Sri Lanka
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