Tamil leaders have long complained that, five years after declaring victory over Tamil separatists, Sri Lanka’s government remained reluctant to demilitarize the former conflict zone, instead maintaining large detachments of army troops and vast military compounds there. Particularly irritating to them was the man chosen as the province’s governor: Maj. Gen. G. A. Chandrasiri, who had commanded army forces during the last, brutal years of the 25-year civil war that ended in 2009.
President Maithripala Sirisena said General Chandrasiri would be replaced by H.M.G.S. Palihakkara, a longtime diplomat who once served on a Truth Commission that recommended an inquiry into reports of grave human rights abuses committed during the last phase of the war. The government website that announced the change emphasized that the new governor was a “nonmilitary civil servant.”
General Chandrasiri’s removal was “one of the major requests” expressed by Tamil voters in the most recent regional elections, said Abraham Sumanthiran, a legislator with the Tamil National Alliance party.
“We are hopeful of better times,” Mr. Sumanthiran said. “We think there is hope with his appointment that things can improve.”