January 15, 2015 2:17:27 pm
Sri Lanka’s new president Maithripala Sirisena has replaced an ex-military with a civilian governor in the Tamil-controlled north in a sign of improving ties with the ethnic minority following the end of the civil war.
President Maithripala Sirisena, who defeated a hard-line incumbent in January elections, announced the appointment of H.M.G.S. Palihakkara as a new governor on his website Wednesday.
The Tamil-controlled provincial administration of the Northern Province has long accused the outgoing governor, retired Maj. Gen. G.A Chandrasiri, of preventing them from functioning freely and running a parallel local government.
Sri Lankan troops defeated Tamil separatist rebels in 2009 after a 25-year civil war, but the government had heavily militarized the region and refused to fulfill its promise to give wide regional autonomy.
In his election policy statement, Sirisena also promised a local investigation into war crimes allegations against the government and Tamil Tiger rebels in the final stages of the fighting. The United Nations human rights body is already conducting its own probe.
A U.N. report said up to 40,000 Tamils civilians may have been killed in the final months of the fighting and largely blamed it on government shelling. The rebels were also accused of recruiting child soldiers and holding them as human shields.
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