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Sri Lanka

CrisisWatch Sri Lanka

Unchanged Situation

Political manoeuvring continued ahead of presidential elections set for 16 Nov, while international actors raised concerns about progress of post-war reconciliation. Following months of bitter internal debate, governing United National Party (UNP) 26 Sept named its deputy leader Sajith Premadasa as its presidential candidate, with agreement of Premadasa’s rival, party leader and PM Ranil Wickremesinghe. Former defence secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, candidate for Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) and widely assumed to be front-runner, faced series of ongoing legal cases. President Sirisena 20 Sept testified to public parliamentary hearings into April terror attacks and next day appointed presidential commission of inquiry for further investigations. Police continued post-attack operations including late-Aug arrest and detention of Usthaz Hajjul Akbar, former head of Sri Lanka Jama’athe Islami; cabinet 18 Sept approved memorandum outlining new counter-terrorism legislation reportedly designed in part to address threats from international jihadi networks. UK 10 Sept made statement at UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on behalf of UNHRC core group on Sri Lanka noting govt implementation of 2015 resolution on accountability and reconciliation “remained slow in many areas” and sharing High Commissioner Bachelet’s Aug concerns over appointment of Lt. Gen. Shavendra Silva as army commander and effect on justice, accountability and reconciliation. UN Department of Peace Operations announced 25 Sept it was suspending future non-essential deployments of Sri Lankan military as peacekeepers in light of Silva’s appointment.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

25 Apr 2019
The president has tried to weaken [Sri Lanka's Prime Minister] in many ways, including taking the police under his control. So it's entirely possible that the police wouldn't share information with ministers not aligned with the president. AFP

Alan Keenan

Project Director, Sri Lanka
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

Latest Updates

Briefing / Asia

Sri Lanka: Stepping Back from a Constitutional Crisis

The return to power of controversial former President Mahinda Rajapaksa as Sri Lanka's prime minister is unconstitutional and destabilising. International actors should make future security and economic cooperation contingent on parliament reconvening immediately to select a prime minister through legal channels. 

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.

Report / Asia

Sri Lanka’s Conflict-Affected Women: Dealing with the Legacy of War

Tamil-speaking women in Sri Lanka’s north and east pushed for accountability and truth during the country’s civil war but have been marginalised during the transitional justice process. The government and international actors must include their voices and address their injustices and difficult economic situation to ensure lasting peace.

Also available in සිංහල, தமிழ்
Report / Asia

Sri Lanka’s Transition to Nowhere

Fragile hopes for lasting peace and cooperation across party and ethnic lines are imperilled. To avoid leaders of the corrupt and violent former regime taking back control of the country, President Sirisena’s two-year-old “unity government” should put aside short-term calculations and return to reform.

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

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Alan Keenan

Project Director, Sri Lanka
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