Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Mopping up in Sri Lanka

I'm going to stick my head on the line here and if this blog was more public I would be getting attacked by voters in Mauritania and those following the ASEAN Security Forum in Phuket; but there hasn't exactly been much going on since perhaps the terrorist attacks in Jakarta on the 17th July. In fact one of the problems with having a birthday in August is that not much happens, it's like war and crises take a holiday. Probably the most famous thing to have ever happened on my birthday is the receiving of the Declaration of Independence in London in 1776. The reason it took so long to arrive was probably because the postman was on holiday.

Naturally I'm not naive enough to truly suggest that the world comes to a standstill in the summer but with the recession beginning to stabilise many countries will be looking to do the same. Arguably the country which needs to stabilise the most is Sri Lanka.

In the final assault of the Sri Lankan army which beat the LTTE many soldiers and civilians lost their lives and much of the Northern region (primarily inhabited by Tamils) has been devastated.

This was a couple of months ago now and the recovery has already begun. This has recently been helped with a huge loan from the IMF.

Regeneration has already begun in the North with plans for roads to be built amongst other projects. It is interesting though to see that both Britain and the United States chose to abstain from discussions over the loans in order to reflect human rights concerns in post-war Sri Lanka.

Suspicion remains rife amongst the international community mainly because the Sri Lankan government has been so secretive during the post-war period. Foreign media is not allowed to visit the camps and Sri Lanka's own traditionally free media has been censored. With reports coming in of deadly diseases spreading through the camps it is no wonder that supporters of the Tamil people are threatening legal action.

It is my opinion that this should be the least of Mahinda Rajapaksa'a worries. The Sri Lankan armed forces remains vast when compared to the population as a whole and it would be easy to squander the loan on maintaining this and offering large army pensions. Rather the President may have to step up to the plate yet again and be the bigger man in this debate. It would be both hugely popular and easy to give the money away to his own people but if the money is spent on making life better for the Tamil minority instead, then both Rajapaksa and Sri Lanka as a country will soon regain it's credibility on the world stage.