After three decades of protracted conflict and four years of relative peace, a recent event has emerged as a sign that democracy, albeit ailing, is still alive in the island-nation of Sri Lanka. On Sept. 21, 2013, for the first time in 25 years, provincial council elections were held in the war-ravaged Northern Province, offering the country’s ethnic Tamil minority, largely present in the region, the opportunity to choose its own political destiny. Sri Lanka established provincial councils in 1987 as a result of the Indo-Sri Lanka Agreement that called for the devolution of power to the provinces in a […]

The Oct. 7 decision of the Supreme Court of the Maldives to annul the results of the presidential election held a month prior appears to be an attempt to avert the predictable win of ousted President Mohamed Nasheed, a liberal Muslim fighting a lonely battle against powerful conservative forces. Nasheed secured 45.45 percent of the vote, just short of an outright victory. The second-place candidate, Abdulla Yameen, the half-brother of former longtime dictatorial President Maumoon Gayoom, received 25.35 percent. The other two candidates, resort tycoon Qasim Ibrahim and incumbent President Mohamed Waheed got 24 percent and 5 percent of the […]

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In the aftermath of the late-September attack on Nairobi’s Westgate mall by Islamist militants linked to the Somali terrorist group al-Shabab, Kenyan authorities reportedly stepped up arrests of Somalis living in Kenya. In an email interview, Anna Lindley, a lecturer in migration, mobility and development at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, explained where Somali refugees live and the likelihood of their return. WPR: What are the main concentrations of Somali refugees outside the country, and how long have they been there? Anna Lindley: Nearly 1 million Somalis are registered as refugees in the region of […]

In September, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a Marxist guerilla organization currently attempting to negotiate an end to its nearly five-decade armed conflict with the Colombian government, called for the formation of a truth commission to investigate Colombia’s conflict. In an email interview, Christian Voelkel, an analyst with the Colombia and Andes project at International Crisis Group, explained the role of transitional justice in Colombia’s peace process, which was also the subject of a recent International Crisis Group report. WPR: What is the scope of the transitional justice measures already in place in Colombia? Christian Voelkel: Transitional justice […]

Newly incumbent Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has signaled the importance he places on Australia’s relations with Indonesia by making Jakarta the destination of his first overseas visit. Abbott said it was his hope “that this visit establishes a convention for all future incoming prime ministers to make Jakarta their first port of call overseas.” But his meetings Monday and Tuesday with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono were initially overshadowed by controversy surrounding Australia’s asylum-seeker policy, which has become a hot-button issue in both countries. Indonesia is important to Australia both from a geostrategic and trade perspective. Relations between the […]