Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Sri Lanka’s Unexpected Political Opening Won’t Last Forever

Taylor Dibbert, thediplomat.com

Maithripala Sirisena image from article

After two big elections and the passage of another UN Human Rights Council resolution, is Sri Lanka’s new government really sincere about deeper reform?

Sri Lanka’s new government, led by President Maithripala Sirisena, has now made a range of assurances via an extensive reform agenda and is now faced with the trickier task of implementation. Elections in January (when Sirisena defeated the increasingly authoritarian Mahinda Rajapaksa in his quest to win an unprecedented third term) and August parliamentary polls, combined with the recently passed UN Human Rights Council (HRC) resolution on Sri Lanka, have presented the country with an unanticipated opening. ...
Colombo definitely doesn’t want to look like it’s getting pushed around in the international arena, although it’s time for the country’s political leadership to describe the contents of the HRC resolution clearly (to Sri Lankan citizens) and explain why the reforms it calls for are so crucial. Things may be happening behind the scenes or in smaller meetings, although a compelling program without a thoughtful public diplomacy strategy is unlikely to draw broad public support. Explaining the need for accountability will be especially contentious. ...

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