File photo: President of Sri Lanka Maithripala Sirisena
Sri Lanka's new President Maithripala Sirisena has sacked the ex-military governor of the Tamil-dominated Northern Province and replaced him with a civilian, in an effort to improve ties with the minority community in the war-ravaged region.
Retired Major General GA Chandrasiri was replaced by HMGS Palihakkara, a distinguished retired Sri Lankan foreign service career officer, government officials said on Thursday.
The ruling Tamil National Alliance of the Northern Province had long accused the outgoing governor Chandrasiri of preventing them from functioning freely and running a parallel local government.
On the reappointment of Mr Chandrasiri, in July last year as the governor of Northern Province, Chief Minister CV Wigneswaran had expressed surprise as the then president had earlier assured him he would change the Governor.
Mr Chandrasiri was the Sri Lankan army's commanding officer in Jaffna during the government troops victorious military campaign. He was appointed as the Northern Province governor immediately after the LTTE was defeated in May 2009. The international community had backed the demand of Tamil political parties to appoint a civilian governor to the the northern province.
Mr Palihakkara was the former Permanent representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations. He has served in the Secretary General's Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters.
He retired as the Foreign Secretary of Sri Lanka in December 2006 after 38 years of civil and diplomatic service. Since the 1990's, he has served on a number of missions to the United Nations in Geneva and New York.