US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, Nisha Desai Biswal says Sri Lanka deserves special attention as it continues to consolidate democratic gains in the past two elections and put the country on a path to reconciliation.
Speaking at the Center for a New American Security in Washington, Biswal said that the United States was among the first to welcome change in Sri Lanka and offer support and assistance.
“Both Secretary Kerry and Ambassador Power visited last year – and I myself visited four times in 2015 – and this year we launched our first-ever Partnership Dialogue,” he said.
Biswal said that while there is still much to be done to pursue justice, strengthen political rights, and establish enduring peace, the current Government has shown that it is committed to moving the country forward.
“Among many other moves, it has already returned over 3,400 acres to displaced families, including another 177 acres just this past week. USAID has launched several programs to stimulate economic growth and development in the country’s north and east, and U.S. businesses are seeing many new and attractive investment opportunities,” she said.
She said the the positive momentum of Sri Lanka stands in sharp contrast to the largely negative trajectory of Maldives, which has seen a steady weakening of its fragile democracy and an erosion of the rule of law.
Biswal said that opposition politicians remain behind bars simply because they gave voice to their views, and because the Government’s skin is too thin to brook any criticism or competition.
She says history shows that such tactics are short-sighted and counterproductive, and the US strongly encourages the Maldives to return to the democratic practices that will best ensure its future success, economic and otherwise. (Colombo Gazette)