COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lanka's president has promised to hold provincial council elections next year in the island nation's former northern war zone.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa's pledge comes amid international criticism that he has failed to devolve power to the northern region since the nation's quarter-century civil war ended in 2009. The majority of the region's population are minority ethnic Tamils.
While presenting the government's annual budget in parliament Thursday, Rajapaksa said the government remains "firmly committed to conducting provincial council elections next year to facilitate democratic representation to promote peace and development."
Sri Lanka has faced international criticism for failing to hold provincial elections in the north despite Rajapaksa telling visiting dignitaries that he would do so.