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Reality Check: Sri Lanka's New Government

Sustained international pressure is needed to ensure that the new Sri Lankan government works towards accountability, justice and reconciliation on the island, said a lecturer in International Conflict Analysis at the University of Kent, Madurika Rasaratnam, and author of a forthcoming book, Tamils and the Nation: India and Sri Lanka compared.

"In broad terms the election merely saw the replacement of one avowed Sinhala nationalist leader with another equally committed to maintaining a unitary and majoritarian Sinhala Buddhist order. It is this dynamic that has fed the ethnic conflict over the past several decades, and continues to drive the militarised repression and exclusion that characterises relations between the state and the Tamils," she writes, in a article published by The Hurst publishers.

"What is different about this election is the context of unprecedented international pressure. Only the continuation of this pressure can sustain the reality check that produced last week’s election outcome and make its legacy different from those of previous ones."

Rasaratnam added that "although Sinhala Buddhist nationalism is a dominant and pervasive force in Sri Lanka, the threat of international isolation is a potent reality check. Indeed, the growing sense that the Rajapakse government had ‘mishandled’ its foreign relations and had alienated western states as well as India fed his declining popularity, particularly amongst Sri Lanka’s political elite."

It is time for the international coalition that has been working towards accountability, justice and reconciliation, "including states, international human rights groups, Tamil diaspora groups and political groups in Tamil Nadu," to push for concrete measures that will start to change ground realities, she added.

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