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Sri Lanka's Authoritarian Turn - ICG

In its latest report, the International Crisis Group (ICG), reiterated the call for international action, arguing that the Sri Lanka government has "crossed a threshold into new and dangerous terrain".

Alan Keenan, ICG's Sri Lanka project director said:

“The Rajapaksa government’s politically motivated impeachment of the chief justice last month reveals both its intolerance of dissent and power sharing and the weakness of the political opposition”

“By incapacitating the last institutional check on executive power, the government has crossed a threshold into new and dangerous terrain. It is threatening prospects for the eventual peaceful transfer of power through free and fair elections”

See full report, executive summary and press statement. Extracts of executive summary reproduced below:

The consolidation of power paves the way for moves that could further set back chances of sustainable peace. The president and his two most powerful brothers – Defence Secretary Gotabaya and Economic Development Minister Basil – have signalled their intention to weaken or repeal the provinces’ already minimal powers. As the government makes explicit its hostility to meaningful power sharing between the centre and the Tamil-speaking north and east, Tamil identity and political power are being systematically undermined by the military-led political and economic transformation of the northern province.

Recent months have also seen an upsurge in attacks by militant Buddhists on Muslim religious sites and businesses. The government has done little to discourage these. Should such provocations continue, the remarkable moderation of Sri Lanka’s Muslims could face serious tests. Given the country’s history of violent resistance to state power perceived as unjust, the authoritarian drift can only increase the risk of an eventual outbreak of political violence.

 

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