The International Crisis Group (ICG) said in a report that President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe must reach workable compromises on key issues including economic reform that shares the pain of change equitably and renewed anti-corruption, anti-impunity drives that prioritise a limited number of significant criminal cases implicating both major parties.
To achieve a deal on the constitution that includes strengthened devolution, ICG says Sirisena must speak forcefully and lead a campaign that explains the reform package’s benefits for all communities.
“Renewing transitional justice hopes requires rapid launch of the Office on Missing Persons and faster progress on reducing the military footprint in the north and east. But time is running out. Leaders in both parties should not discount a Rajapaksa return. For their own survival and to deliver on at least some of their big promises, they should reject chauvinistic politics and daily bickering and invest their political capital in promoting an inclusive vision and more accountable polity that can mitigate the risk of new conflict,” ICG added.
The report also notes that Tamils in the north and east were assured of confidence building measures that require major changes in the security forces’ role. Yet, the military resists returning additional occupied land to its owners in these areas and continues to run shops and hotels and build Buddha statues in Tamil and Muslim communities.
ICG says failure to reduce the military footprint has led to a campaign of protests by Tamils in the north that is weakening support for the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), the main Tamil party cooperating closely with the ruling coalition.