In 2016 Sri Lanka saw political stability and some initiatives toward ethnic reconciliation. The economy continued to grow steadily. Some progress was made toward a better institutional infrastructure to protect human rights. However, hostility between President Sirisena and loyalists to former President Rajapaksa presages political turmoil in 2017 that could imperil constitutional reform and ethnic reconciliation.
The year 2015 in Sri Lanka was characterized by a democratic transfer of power from the United People’s Freedom Alliance, led by President Mahinda Rajapaksa, to a coalition led by the United National Party. Constitutional changes restricting presidential power, and the growth of a new approach to human rights and ethnic reconciliation, accompanied this shift. Sri Lanka’s emphasis in its economic policy shifted from major infrastructural projects to a further strengthening of human capacities.
Open warfare between the government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam broke out in mid-year. The two sides met twice in Geneva but failed to resolve their differences. Disagreements within the ruling coalition on how to resolve this conflict resulted in a realignment of political forces. The economy continued to grow, although troubling indicators emerged toward the end of 2006.
The tsunami of December 26, 2004, the biggest natural disaster to strike Sri Lanka in centuries, dominated the scene in the first half of 2005. Disputes within the government on arrangements to distribute international aid in cooperation with the major militant Tamil rebel group resulted in political turmoil. While the economy continued to grow in the absence of open war, both the government and the Tamil Tigers tried to gain military and political advantage. In the second half of the year, a presidential election presented voters with some striking policy alternatives.