Sri Lanka aims to demilitarise island by 2018

Saturday, 27 August, 2016 - 13:30

Sri Lanka intends to become completely demilitarised by 2018, the government said, a significant announcement that will end the army’s involvement in civilian life after decades of interethnic war.

Heavy deployments from the Sri Lankan army have remained in former war zones in the island’s north and east since a 37-year conflict with Tamil separatists ended in May 2009.

The military is also deeply involved in private enterprise, running everything from beauty parlours to businesses selling vegetables and fish, in competition with small-scale vendors.

“By 2018, we hope to complete the demilitarisation process, not only in the north-east, but the rest of the country too,” Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera told reporters in Colombo.

“We have also asked the military to disengage from all commercial activities they are engaged in,” Samaraweera said.