Sri Lanka: Background and U.S. Relations
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WASHINGTON DC CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
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Sri Lanka is a constitutional democracy with relatively high educational and social standards. Under Sri Lankas hybrid parliamentary model, an elected president appoints the cabinet in consultation with the prime minister. The countrys political, social, and economic development has been seriously constrained by ethnic conflict between the majority Sinhalese and minority Tamil ethnic groups. Since 1983, a separatist war costing some 66,000 lives has been waged against government forces by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam LTTE, a rebel group that has been seeking to establish a separate state in the Tamil-dominated areas of the north and east. A Norwegian-brokered peace process produced some notable successes, though it was suspended by the LTTE in the spring of 2003 due to differences over interim administration arrangements. In February 2002, a permanent ceasefire was reached and generally was until 2006 generally observed by both sides. In September 2002, the government in Colombo and the LTTE held their first peace talks in seven years, with the LTTE indicating that it was willing to accept autonomy rather than independence for Tamil-majority regions. The two sides agreed in principle to seek a solution through a federal structure. However, LTTE leader Prabakaran has stated that there may be a return to fighting. At the end of October 2003, the LTTE submitted to the government a proposal for establishing an interim administration in the Northeast. The period from 2004 to early 2005 has witnessed increasing instability within the ranks of both the Sinhalese government and the LTTE which has led to increasing concern over the future of the peace process.
- Government and Political Science