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Lessons Learned for Sri Lanka

Iranga Kahangama Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2010

Last month, the Indian central government abruptly ended days of violent protests by carving out a federal state for the Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh. In an effort to end a five-decade-long internal conflict, the world's largest democracy ceded a state for the greater good of stability and governance. India's war-weary neighbor, Sri Lanka, would do well to take a page from New Delhi's playbook as it looks to foster peaceful relations with its own minority Tamil population.

The Sri Lankan government must take advantage of its recent military defeat of the Tamil Tigers insurgency (LTTE) by negotiating for political inclusion of the Tamil people via a federal system. Previously, the government had agreed to a decentralization of power for the Tamil population in exchange for the disarmament of Tamil rebel groups, as per the Indo-Lanka Accord of 1987. The accord served as the basis for the 13th amendment to the Sri Lankan constitution, which devolved power through provincial councils, but failed to provide substantial local governance capacity. The Tigers' subsequent unwillingness to disarm ultimately doomed the accord, and today, even in the absence of violence, problems persist. ...

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