Meanwhile, northern Sri Lanka continues to feel like a land under occupation, with an all-pervasive military intelligence snooping on Tamils deemed to be suspicious. The government says it is cutting by nearly a third the large numbers of soldiers stationed in the north since the war. A successful provincial election in September produced a local government led by a Tamil opposition party. Though it enjoys only grudging co-operation from Mr Rajapaksa, progress towards reconciliation is still possible. But the country’s bloody past has still to be accounted for.