US really misjudged Sirisena and Coalition Government

Monday, 26 August 2019 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

I enjoyed reading Uditha Jayasinghe’s thoughtful interview with the US State Department’s Alice Wells (‘Snapshot of US-SL ties’). I was, however, disappointed that the exchange didn’t address the ways in which US-Sri Lanka relations have evolved since Maithripala Sirisena became President. 

Let’s not forget that the Obama administration naively moved too quickly to reset bilateral ties that had grown increasingly strained when Mahinda Rajapaksa was President. Washington’s slobbering love affair with the coalition Government was horribly misguided and undoubtedly discouraged reform efforts. 

The Trump administration basically picked up where Team Obama left off. Human rights and transitional justice are no longer the priorities that they once were.

It will be interesting to see what happens to the bilateral relationship if Gotabaya Rajapaksa becomes President. It’s possible he ends up being someone that policymakers in Washington feel they can work with. But at what cost?

Taylor Dibbert

Takoma Park, Maryland (USA)