Sri Lanka

The recent Sri Lankan presidential election was remarkable for several reasons.

First, Mahinda Rajapaksa, the over-confident incumbent, lost the vote, despite a booming economy. Second, Mr Rajapaksa – who was often accused of authoritarian and dynastic tendencies – seems to have accepted the voters’ verdict without a fight. His best riposte to those who accused him of not being a democrat may turn out to be the way in which he accepted unfavourable election results, and allowed his rival, Maithripala Sinisena, to assume power. The change of government in Sri Lanka also has a wider geopolitical significance. Read more

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  • Having ended a long civil war and presided over an economic boom, Mahinda Rajapaksa expected to coast to a third term as president of Sri Lanka in today’s election. Instead, he faces a resurgent opposition
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Sri Lankan journalist Faraz Shauketaly is rushed to hospital (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

Sri Lankan journalist Faraz Shauketaly was rushed to hospital on February 16 (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

The Sri Lankan government has a pretty dismal reputation on human rights, but has paid little discernible price for this. Perhaps the rest of the world is simply grateful that a terrible civil war has come to a close – however brutal the finale.

It is important that disappearances and shootings in Sri Lanka should not go unremarked. So, in case you missed it, here is an FT report on the shooting of a Sri Lankan journalist last week. As the report notes, Sri Lanka is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists. Some 39 have been killed over the last seven years.

The journalist who was shot this week worked for the Sunday Leader newspaper – whose editor was assassinated a couple of years ago, after predicting that he would be murdered by people linked to the government. The Sri Lankan government obviously denies any connection to the killing of journalists – although Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the country’s volatile defence secretary, has issued barely-veiled threats against senior journalists for writing stories he did not like. The transcript of the conversation is here. The defence minister’s interview with the BBC Hardtalk programme also gives a flavour of the man. Read more