Post-conflict Sri Lanka still a divided society, says CPA

Saturday, 23 April 2016 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Even almost seven years after the end of the war, Sri Lanka continues to remain a deeply divided society, a leading public policy research and advocacy think tank in Sri Lanka says.

The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) in a report released Wednesday says the empirical evidence from the four waves of the ‘Democracy in post-war Sri Lanka’, a public opinion survey conducted by Social Indicator, the survey research arm of CPA corroborates this ground reality.

In its report ‘Dynamics of Sinhala Buddhist Ethno-Nationalism in Post-War Sri Lanka,’ the CPA says the Sri Lankans are polarised along ethnic lines on key questions related to governance, and the task of promoting reconciliation between the island’s diverse communities has been identified by the current administration as a key priority.

According to the report, the biggest challenge to Sri Lanka’s reconciliation agenda comes from nationalists on all sides of the divide.

Although the nationalistic fervour appeared to be on a downward trajectory following the January 2015 presidential election in which Maithripala Sirisena won campaigning on an anti-corruption platform, the growing disenchantment in the Sinhala-Buddhist community on many fronts, their burgeoning economic woes in particular, at least in part has made it easier for nationalistic political posturing to re-capture its lost appeal, the report points out.

The report also argues that while the vast majority of Sinhala Buddhists embrace rationalistic values and are amenable to sharing power with the minorities, nationalistic forces within the community continue to subsume moderate voices.

“As a direct result of their dominance and the centre’s apprehensions of triggering an extremist backlash, arriving at a sustainable political solution to the country’s ethnic question will remain a contentious issue,” it says.

“Therefore, although the Government has accorded priority to ‘reconciliation’ as a policy objective, a meaningful reconciliation process which – most critically – includes the formulation of an inclusive political system whereby minorities will have an equitable stake in governance will be extremely challenging in view of this reality,” the CPA says. (Colombopage)