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Sri Lanka: Last Chance for Lasting Peace

Monday, Feb. 22, 2010

The recent election loss of Sri Lankan opposition candidate Gen. Sarath Fonseka underlines the island's failure to build on its recently achieved peace, while his subsequent detention brought to light a threat to its democracy. Now, upcoming parliamentary elections, slated for April 8, represent the country's last chance to build an opposition that can bring the ethnic grievances that drove Sri Lanka's civil war into the political arena, while also maintaining a stable multiparty democracy.

Incumbent President Mahinda Rajapaksa wasted little time in using his commanding electoral victory over Fonseka to consolidate his power. Shortly after the election, Fonseka was arrested and has since been kept in detention under unofficial charges of sedition. Some see this as an act of revenge and political suppression by Rajapaksa against his opponents. Others see it as a preemptive strike to silence Fonseka - who, as the commanding general of Sri Lanka's military campaign to defeat the Tamil Tiger insurgency, could reveal information supporting potential war crimes charges against the government. ...

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