Harim Peiris

Political and Reconciliation perspectives from Sri Lanka

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Open letter to President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga – Rebuilding a divided nation

Posted by harimpeiris on April 23, 2017

                                  (Published in the Daily News of 20th April 2017)

 

President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga

Chairperson Office of National Unity and Reconciliation

Office of the Former President

Colombo.

 

Dear Madam,

 

Fulfilling the promise of a new Sri Lanka

 

I thought I must write to you regarding the current political situation, as the government deals with the unenviable task of rebuilding and stabilizing an economy dragged down by the predecessor Rajapakse Administration through a combination of corruption, mismanagement, declining government revenue and excessively large doses of external debt utilized on mostly white elephant projects of dubious utility value, including the failed Mihin Lanka, the world’s most expensive express ways per kilo meter, an unused airport in the middle of nowhere and a grossly underutilized port.

 

The mandates of 2015

 

My reason to address this letter to you is due to the fact, that a little over two years ago, you were instrumental in doing what was then thought to be impossible, that of uniting a divided and fractious opposition into a common political front, the rainbow coalition that brought President Sirisena to power on a promise of good governance and state reforms. At that time, the Rajapakse Administration was deeply entrenched in power and many political analysts, especially those aligned with the Rajapaksa’s dismissed the possibility of good governance and democratic reforms as a mass mobilizing factor. However, the elections of January and indeed August 2015, was to prove otherwise. It should be a cause of some satisfaction that a majority of Sri Lankans opted for a democratic and compassionate (inclusive, tolerant & pluralistic) state, rather than a populist and authoritarian one. It is in that context rather puzzling how some in the Joint Opposition claim rather disingenuously that there was no mandate for a national government, when it is clear that there are twin mandates of January and August 2015 concurrently in force and that both of these are for a politically united approach to state reforms, both economic and political. It is imperative that these reforms be implemented in the interest of a new Sri Lanka, which moves away from the social conflict and economic malaise from which we have suffered for much of our recent history.

 

A disunited Rajapakse Joint Opposition

 

It is a matter of some regret, that the Joint Opposition backing defeated President Rajapakse seems intent on obstructing every single attempt at reform, from economic reforms, reconciliation and the constitutional reform process. However, it should be noted that the same fault lines which brought an unexpected and unlamented early end to the Rajapaksa Administration, still continue to persist and encircle the Rajapakse come back project. First among them is the raging internal debate as to which Rajapaksa, should succeed Mahinda, Basil, Gotabaya or even the young man in a hurry, Namal, poor Chamal and Sashindra, not really ever either aspirants or contenders for being brother number one (pun entirely unintended). It is eminently clear from the close supporters of both Gotabaya and Basil that neither is willing to play second fiddle to the other, in the event of next time around. Sri Lanka’s tortured pre-colonial monarchial history is dominated by royal families which lost power due to an inability to sort out internally and within themselves their succession battles and one observes that the attempted Rajapaksa dynasty suffers from the same fatal flaw.

 

This internal familial contest for power also extends to political tactics and approaches, where Basil Rajapakse has adopted a decidedly confrontational approach, launching a new political party, trying to organize rallies, protest marches and public shows of political muscle while the Gotabaya Rajapakse approach is decidedly different, using interlocutors and intermediaries to try and bring about a political alliance between the defeated Rajapaksa’s’ and the incumbent Sirisena presidency, rather incredibly to try and overturn the people’s mandate through a political alliance, the logic and rationale for which has never quite been made clear or politically articulated.

 

A premature focus on 2020

 

Dear Madam, you hold the respected post of SLFP Patron and unlike the SLFP’s other former president, retired from office gracefully due to democratic term limits and with plenty of political capital at your disposal, which was on rather evident and public display in the formation and victory of the Yahapalanaya administration in 2015.  With the honeymoon period of the government decidedly now over, the hard work of the mid-term period beckons. In that context, it is crucial that the SLFP as the party founded and led in the past by your late esteemed father and mother and indeed by you, now under the leadership of President Sirisena, effectively contributes to implementing the much needs reforms, including the reconciliation process, entrusted to your leadership.

 

It was renowned political scientist John Paul Lederach, who wrote and articulated the concept of the moral imagination, the ability of political actors and formations, to see positive possibilities, opportunities and outcomes through change and reform. I am a little concerned that some leading lights of the SLFP, who mostly backed the wrong horse in January 2015, are failing to seize this historic window of opportunity for Sri Lanka to effect reforms which will ensure that the Sri Lankan state reflects the full diversity of our society. That we eliminate what LTTE suicide bombing victim late Dr. Neelan Tiruchelvam so succinctly described as the anomaly of having imposed a mono ethnic state on a multi ethnic polity. Some sections of the SLFP going by their public statements, seem already quite focused on the next elections due in 2020.  In the alternate I would respectfully submit that it is more important, at least to the sovereign people of Sri Lanka, what is actually delivered and achieved from 2015 to 2020, rather than the contours of the next election due only about three years hence.

 

The Rajapaksa regime was ended because a section of the SLFP and the UNP together with others came together. They must now work together. JHU leader and articulate Rajapaksa critic, Minister Champika Ranawaka recently made an interesting observation, that the SLFP and the UNP can contest separately but then govern together, in a nation building exercise. JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake in the context of the SAITM debate stated that toppling a government was no option, when there is no viable, attractive or acceptable alternative. The best response to political extremists in both the North and the South, is for the National Unity administration to work together to deliver the next round of the democratic, political and economic reforms which the people mandated two years ago.

 

With highest regards,

Harim Peiris

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Anandasangari and Premachandran take on Sambanthan

Posted by harimpeiris on April 6, 2017

 

By Harim Peiris
 (Published in The Island of 5th April 2017)

In Sri Lanka’s ethnically polarized political society, the political discourse of both the Sinhala and Tamil polity, is sadly limited and largely restricted to being within their own respective communities, with occasional broadsides against each other. There is insufficient dialogue and engagement between the different political views, especially on the issues of reconciliation. Within that context, it was interesting to note recently the call by two former Members of Parliament for the Jaffna District, V. Anandasangaree and Suresh Premachandra, for TNA and Opposition Leader R. Sambanthan resign as Leader of the Opposition. They accused him of using the Opposition Leader’s position to defend the government and the reconciliation process, which they claim has not addressed the needs of the Tamil community.

1. The call echoes that of the Joint Opposition (JO)

The call by the two former Jaffna District MPs from the TULF and the EPRLF, both now leading their respective minor parties, the former without Parliamentary representation and the latter with a single member in Vanni District MP, Shivashakthi Anandan elected on the TNA / ITAK ticket, are no doubt aware that their call echoes that of various Joint Opposition(JO)  leaders, who have at various times been repeatedly calling upon Mr. Sambanthan to resign and hand over the opposition leader position to the JO. When Tamil leaders find that their tactical moves are converging with that of the JO, who have diametrically opposite views regarding the reconciliation process, it should make them pause and reflect on the wisdom of their tactics.

2. Mr. Sambanthan’s leadership post the end of the war

It is worth noting the significant leadership which Mr. Sambanthan, has given the Tamil community and consequently made them partners in a reconciliation process after the end of the war. The destruction of the LTTE in 2009, created a political power vacuum in the Tamil community, which the veteran democratic leader quickly and adroitly filled, bringing the traditional leaders of the Tamil community back into control of the community, through the Ilankai Tamil Arasu Katchi (ITAK) led TNA. This was no small feat, since there were many “wanna be” successors to Prabhakaran from the now surrendered KP, to the Diaspora based Nediyavan or Rudrakumara of TGTE and the ITAK’s old bete noire and historic opponents, the Ponnambalam family scion Gajendrakumar led All Ceylon Tamil Congress (ACTC).  Even the war era, “sole alternative to the sole representative” as Douglas Devananda of the EPDP liked to style himself, tried to fill the power vacuum from the other side of the spectrum aligning himself with the Rajapakse regime and trying to get the UPFA / EPDP to power in the North and East. However, in election after election, beginning from the local government elections in 2010, the Eastern Provincial Council elections thereafter, which the TNA came quite close to winning, the Northern Provincial Council election which it did win and the General Elections of both 2010 and 2015, the TNA swept the polls in the North and baring Ampara District even the East, capturing way over eight five percent (85%) of the Tamil vote and delivering a consistent and stunning political rebuke to its internal critics and challengers. While the situations are not comparable, Mr. Sambanthan and the TNA has had a lock and monopoly on Tamil support at over 85%, which even President Rajapaksa at the zenith of his power, in the 2010 elections never had on the Sinhala electorate. The TNA’s high levels of support by their constituency has held steady from post the end of the war in 2009 through the present.

3. Removing the LTTE from Tamil electoral politics and the TNA

Under Mr. Sambanthan’s leadership the TNA post war made some significant moves, all the time carrying the support of the Tamil people. Firstly, the TNA, eschewed inducting former LTTE leaders and members into its ranks. There was a temptation for the TNA, to glorify and seek to run on a platform of sympathy for and empathy from the defeated LTTE. From Daya Master to KP, to various other LTTE political and military wing survivors, there were many who wished to get into active politics. However, the TNA eschewed this temptation and harked back to a former prewar era, drawing inspiration from the non-violent struggle and political life of SJV Chelvanayagam, rather than encouraging a nostalgia for the LTTE. While doing so, Sambanthan pulled off the near impossible, in deftly moving away from the famous Vaddukodai resolution on separatism, by repeatedly, publicly and categorically committing to seeking power sharing within a united, indivisible and undivided Sri Lanka. That all this was done, in the ashes of the LTTE’s defeat and in the context of significant nostalgia for the LTTE within the Tamil community, especially in the Vanni, speaks volumes for Mr. Sambanthan’s political sagacity and skills.

4. Engaging the South as a partner in reconciliation

It is however in the engagement with the South, that Mr. Sambanthan has played his best game yet. Within a space of a few years, he turned Tamil politics from a near three decades long armed confrontation with the Sri Lankan State, to becoming a political ally and partner in the rainbow coalition which swept the seemingly undefeatable Mahinda Rajapaksa from power. Mr. Sambanthan’s logic was simple enough. Everybody’s rights, including that of the Tamil community is best secured by a robust liberal democratic society and not in a populist authoritarian one.

Furthermore, while progress on reconciliation has been slow, at times even painfully so, the direction has changed post the Sirisena / Wickramasinghe Administration. Some private land and houses occupied by the military in the North was released to their owners, NGOs and the volunteer sector were given the space to meet the needs of the vulnerable, some PTA detainees were released, the TNA were included in a coalition Administration in the Eastern Province together with the national parties and the SLMC to complement its provincial administration in the North, Governors for the North and East, who were partners in peace and development replaced the former military background appointees and a process of constitutional reform was begun. While none of these outcomes may have met all needs at the present time and the processes may not have proceeded as fast as Mr. Anandasangaree and Mr. Premachandran desires, to ignore the change of direction and the real gains made, albeit at a slow pace, is to miss significant and noteworthy progress and movement in the right direction, which did not happen by accident, but largely due to the quiet and dignified political leadership of Rajavarothian Sambanthan. The TNA may have its faults, but Sri Lanka as a whole is blessed that the leadership of the Tamil community moved away from Prabhakaran to Sambanthan.

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The CID on Military Intelligence Death Squads

Posted by harimpeiris on March 29, 2017

By Harim Peiris

(Published in the Daily news of  29th  March  2017)

It should have been a political bombshell of huge magnitude but it turned out not to be. It should have halted the Joint Opposition SLFP faction’s fascination with Gotabaya Rajapakse, but it did not. Recently in the course of case proceedings in the Mt.Lavinia Magistrate’s Court into the murder of Sunday Leader Editor Lasantha Wickramatunga, the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), the country’s premier criminal investigative department of the Police, revealed in Court, that the Sri Lankan military’s intelligence apparatus had run a death squad operation, which was outside the military’s normal chain of command and directly overseen by the then President Rajapaksa’s brother and defense secretary Gotabaya. The next day as expected, Mr. Gotabaya Rajapakse issued the standard blanket denial, which was the hall mark of the Rajapaksa Administration, of any such role or responsibility for a military intelligence death squad. However, this piece of evidence by the CID raises serious issues for Sri Lanka and her democracy and require careful, fulsome and comprehensive public debate, which also cannot and should not be squashed through self-censorship and media manipulation.

1. It is CID evidence in court, not a political claim on a platform.

During the 2015 presidential election, the issue of the fear psychosis in Sri Lankan society, the brutality of the Rajapakse Administration, the white van syndrome, abductions, the forced disappearance culture and the allegation that the national security apparatus which had been so effective against the LTTE was now being turned against democratic political opponents of the Rajapaksa’s’ had been alleged from the political platform. But it was two years later, that the credible information available at the time of the campaign had now translated itself into evidence acceptable in a court of law, under the evidence ordinance. The CID was not merely repeating the claims made by the then Army Commander, about his intelligence wing, but had, we can safely assume, as is common in any investigation crossed checked with other witnesses, suspects and sources.

 2. The Rajapaksa’s tried to politicize the military but failed.

The Rajapaksa’s unsuccessfully sought to politicize the Sri Lankan military and use it as a political tool. By and large, Sri Lanka’s fighting forces, our best, resisted this effort and continued in the best traditions of a professional military which did not seek to bow to the illegal whims and fancies of a government of the day. In mid night attempts to use the military to suspend the results of the January 2015 election the Rajapaksa’s failed. The postal voting from places such as Jaffna district where the bulk of the Army is stationed and postal voters are mostly the military, demonstrated that the military rank and file comprehensively rejected the Rajapaksa’s. It is perhaps only in the shadowy world of military intelligence in the capital Colombo and the south, that the lethal force of the State’s national security apparatus was turned on democratic political opponents.

Civilian control of the military is an essential feature of a democracy. What the CID evidence reveals in the Wickramatunga murder was clear, that the military apparatus headed by the President’s brother operated as a law unto itself and was accountable to no one. Not only the military intelligence but from Avant Garde to Rakna Lanka, from the new Defense headquarters building fund to dalliance with violent extremist groups it is clear that the Rajapakse defense set up was accountable to no one. Not Parliament, the auditor general or any other statutory or state body. During the conflict era, maximum operational leeway needs to be given a military to conduct operations and as former President Jayawardena famously quoted the ancient Roman Empire Era’s Senator and philosopher Cicero, “in the fight of good against evil, the laws are silent”. However now, the evil threat of the LTTE to Sri Lanka was comprehensively eliminated on the banks of the Nandikadal lagoon in 2009. We cannot and must not live in peace time, like in war time. We cannot have a war psychosis, which adds to the anxiety of the populace, negates the comprehensive nature of the victory won by the armed forces and significantly reduces the normalization of society and confidence in law and order required for investment, commerce and economic prosperity. The military intelligence must be held totally accountable to Parliament. Currently the world’s most powerful military, the US military and its civilian executive leadership holds itself accountable to a variety of Congressional committees.

3.Implications for the Thajudeen murder and other crimes

The existence of state controlled, military intelligence linked illegal armed assassins and hit squads have serious implications for the ongoing investigations into the murder of former Thomian, Havelock’s and national rugby player Wasim Thajudeen, the abduction of editor Keith Noyar, Poddala Jayantha and the disappearance of journalist Prageeth Ekneligoda. The allegation during the 2015 election, (It was unsafe to allege anything before an election campaign, because any one alleging anything against a Rajapaksa, ran the serious risk of sharing the same fate as either Keith Noyar, Poddala Jayantha or the ultimate fate of Thajudeen and Ekneligoda among others), was that these were ordered and carried out by state actors under government orders. The CID in the Lasantha Wickramatunga case, is now presenting evidence to corroborate this in court. It is in this context, that President Sirisena has stated that if he had challenged the Rajapaksa’s and lost, he would have been six feet under (killed).

Sri Lanka post the end of the war, must have a public life and social culture that is different from the national security state of the war decades. Our people demanded better in 2015 and our future generations deserve better. The CID evidence, is one more fact, which clearly reveals why Sri Lanka needs real reform, including security sector reform. Nationalist elements bristle when there is criticism of the Sri Lankan state and her institutions and through the Joint Opposition (JO) having been blocking every attempt at real reform. Military intelligence death squads unleased against democratic political opposition in post war peace times, demonstrates exactly why Sri Lanka needs national reconciliation and deep social healing.

(The writer is Advisor, Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The views expressed are personal)

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Avoid hysteria regarding UNHRC & pursue reconciliation

Posted by harimpeiris on March 21, 2017

By Harim Peiris

(Published in the Daily news of  21st  March  2017)

The ongoing sessions of the UN Human Rights Council, has seen heightened public interest and escalating rhetoric with regard to both the state reforms and reconciliation processes. The Joint Opposition (JO), basically the political grouping supporting defeated President Mahinda Rajapakse has been ratcheting up its anti-reform and anti-reconciliation rhetoric in to overdrive. The political heat generated though creates more confusion rather than throwing light on the relevant facts, which should be considered with due seriousness and careful consideration.

 

The national unity approach in Geneva

 

The foreign (& indeed domestic) policy approach of the National Unity Government formed in 2015, is at considerable variance with that followed by its predecessor. Indeed, it should be so, since the Rajapakse approach, post the end of the war, failed to maintain our international friends, all of whom had supported Sri Lanka’s battle against the LTTE, isolated Sri Lanka, damaged our relations with trading partners and resulted in a growing self-imposed isolation from the world. Rather than building bridges and engaging the world, which is what is required for a strategically placed, island nation.

Co-sponsoring the resolution in Geneva, was and is the right thing to do, as it clearly states to the world, that Sri Lanka as a sovereign state, takes responsibility for its own actions and is ready to be accountable for compliance with its international obligations, as a free and equal member of the international community of nations. Our robust engagement with the world, enhances and promote rather than detracts from our national interest. Our national interests, whether security, economic or socio-cultural are not served by becoming a pariah state.

 

Much ado about foreign judges

 

The joint opposition of the defeated Rajapakse regime, makes much ado and seeks to create some hysteria about the sections of the resolution which talk of foreign participation in accountability processes including judges, prosecutors etc. However, it must be noted that it was the very act of the Rajapakse regime in summarily sacking former Chief Justice Shiranie Bandaranaike and imposing an interloper at the apex of Sri Lanka’s judiciary, which severely eroded international and indeed domestic confidence in Sri Lanka’s judiciary, the Bar Association leading the opposition to the impugned removal of Chief Justice Bandaranaike. The restoration of the independence of the judiciary, best symbolized by the restoration of Chief Justice Bandaranaike after the 2015 presidential election, was the first step in restoring confidence in Sri Lanka’s judiciary.

 

Firstly, it was the Rajapakse Administration which introduced foreign jurists into Sri Lanka’s transitional justice mechanisms, when President Rajapaksa’s Special Presidential Commission on Grave Human Rights Abuses also comprised of the International Group of Eminent Persons (IGEP) led by former Indian Chief Justice Bhagwatti and aided by foreign legal experts in prosecutions and forensics. Moreover, the subsequent Rajapakse Administration creation of the Paranagama Commission was also assisted by a foreign judge and lawyers. Moreover, all Sri Lankans are no doubt proud that eminent Sri Lankan judges serve on both foreign national judiciaries and international legal tribunals, late Justice Weeramantry being the best-known example. But other Sri Lankan judges have also served in Fiji, Botswana and several other countries.

 

Secondly, the UNHRC Resolution categorically states that the accountability process and the institutions or mechanisms created would be a domestic (Sri Lankan) process. Clearly a Sri Lankan process, would be Sri Lankan led and managed with such expertise, assistance and support as required to ensure, a credible process, whose outcome everybody can trust.

 

Focus on reconciliation

 

The real problem with the current tone, tenor and content of the political debate, especially as defined by the Joint Opposition (JO) is that it completely ignores the reality and the national need for what President Sirisena has frequently defined as “Sanhindiyawa” or reconciliation, which is dealing with the effects and the causes of our near three decades of civil conflict. Which Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera, so aptly refers to as “addressing the failures of dealing with our diversity”, which has cost our nation dearly. We owe it to our future generations of Sri Lankans that we do not bequeath them a nation, which is ethnically polarized, with simmering communal tensions and a sub optimal economy, where the national past time of the young and not so young, including mothers, is to leave the country.

 

Sri Lanka like any country requires reform and the National Unity Administration of President Sirisena and Prime Minster Wickramasinghe was elected on a platform of reform, economic development and reconciliation. The quick, easy wins in that process was achieved during the one hundred (100) day program in 2015. Much of the ground work for the harder more substantial measures on reforms, economic development and reconciliation was done last year in 2016 and the current year should be the one which sees some of the fruition of those efforts. To oppose such reforms due to focusing on mid-term local government and provincial elections is extremely short sighted and definitely not in the national interest.

 

A political opposition in a democratic society does have a crucial role to play as a watch dog and a constructive critic, holding a government accountable. However, the current political rhetoric and the consequent social tensions generated is more polarizing and divisive than constructive. A national reform process, must indeed be inclusive and this includes not only the majority monoethnic JO but also accommodate and include the ethnic minority and other smaller parties, to ensure that the reformed institutions of the Sri Lankan state, accommodates the full diversity of our nation’s multi ethnic and multi religious society.

 

(The writer is Advisor, Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The views expressed are personal)

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State reforms as a domestic policy imperative

Posted by harimpeiris on February 28, 2017

 

By Harim Peiris

(Published in Groundviews on 27th Feb 2017)

 

Earlier this week, Parliament debated, on an adjournment motion by the TNA, the unresolved issues of the North and East, namely dealing with the effects and the causes of the war. The former requiring specific reconciliation measures and the latter reforms of the Sri Lankan state which enables the state to accommodate the full diversity of her society. The attention of the Sri Lankan polity will also be focused internationally at the UNHRC in Geneva, where at its general sessions the resolution on Sri Lanka, dealing with our reconciliation and democratization processes, would be on the agenda. Various reports in the popular press have a range of views on the reconciliation process and the current state of play, which broadly divide into two camps. In the south, opposition forces are agitating that the proposed reforms are a sell out and have consequently largely resigned from the steering committee of the Constitutional Assembly, but after having served on the sub committees during deliberations and the submission of their reports. In the North, opposition to the TNA leadership, paradoxically, largely from within its own ranks would claim that little or no progress on reconciliation has occurred.

 

The context for the current state of play, is the momentous elections of 2015, which abruptly ended what had seemed an invincible Rajapakse Administration and its policy direction of creeping authoritarianism and an entrenching of social divisions and ethnic polarizations. The elections of President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe, opened a new chapter, in post war Sri Lanka, a government committed to the three pillars of democratization, reconciliation and sustainable economic development. The one hundred (100) day program of the new government succeeded in achieving the early wins and the easy tasks and the 19th amendment to the constitution, was the landmark achievement of that first flush of victory. The current tasks and challenges are now the harder tasks of state reform and it is important to bear in mind, why we should reform.

 

Earlier in this month of February, we celebrated our 69th anniversary of independence and casting our minds back to 1948, Ceylon as we were then called was a land of rich promise. Looking back nearly seven decades later, we realize that our inability to deal with our diversity led us spending about three decades fighting a ruinous civil war, which eroded our democracy, polarized our society, stunted our economic growth and warped our social progress. It is not in the interest of any section of Sri Lankan society, that we live our next three decades, like we did in the last three.

 

The end of the war and the destruction of the armed capability of the LTTE in 2009, provided a unique second chance for us to recreate a united and tolerant Sri Lanka, accommodative of diversity and fulfilling the aspirations of all her peoples. Unfortunately, the Rajapakse Administration, which had provided the political oversight for the military’s defeat of the LTTE, seemed both unwilling and unable to chart a new course to provide either a peace dividend or a sustainable peace. It was amazing that in a short span of four to five years, it moved from an overwhelming victory to an ignominious defeat. The broad rainbow coalition of the “Yahapalanya” Administration was elected on a good governance and reform agenda, which would seek to utilize the window of opportunity we have for real and needed state reform.

 

The most important aspect of reform required by the general public is economic reform, for a dynamic and growing economy which fulfills the economic aspirations of all our peoples, including both urban and rural, young and old, professionals and entrepreneurs, the educated and the less well educated. The economic management leadership of the current administration would clearly articulate that they inherited an economy hobbled with excessive foreign debt spent on projects of dubious value at exorbitant and inflated costs, which in an unfavorable external environment has been a near insurmountable challenge to overcome. Well knowing though that the next election would all be about how economic benefits were delivered to the people.

 

The other aspect of needed reform is in the area of reconciliation and the government is moving in the right direction, though arguably at a pace slower than that wished by the people of the North and East and their elected representatives. However, the important fact is that the Government is on the right path, even if it has not progressed down that path, at quite the pace wishes by some. Even government leaders may well be frustrated by the pace of reform, but politics and policy reform is also the art of the possible, exploiting existing spaces complemented with comprehensive dialogue among stakeholders and such democratic processes take time and as the old adage goes, Rome was not built in a day and societies being complex, change slowly and incrementally.

 

Sri Lanka actually achieved a quiet people revolution through the ballot box in 2015 and started off on a new journey, which has perhaps passed its one third mark, but not yet reached even the half way stage. It must be provided the time, space and support, both locally and internationally to proceed down the path of reforms in democracy, reconciliation and sustainable economic development, to fulfil the clear mandates of the sovereign people of Sri Lanka given in January and August 2015.

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