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Can Ramaphosa help heal Sri Lanka?

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South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, in his capacity as a special envoy to Sri Lanka, arrives at Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo. Picture: Siyabulela Duda

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Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa arrived in Sri Lanka on Monday to share South Africa’s experiences in reconciliation and nation-building with rival Sri Lankan groups.

President Jacob Zuma appointed Ramaphosa as special envoy to Sri Lanka – as well as to South Sudan – in February.

This was his first visit to Sri Lanka since being appointed special envoy, the government said.

During the Commonwealth heads of state and government meeting in November last year, Zuma met President Mahinda Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka.

Rajapaksa asked Zuma to share South Africa’s experiences in reconciliation and nation-building with Sri Lanka.

The deputy president’s visit to Sri Lanka follows two earlier visits to South Africa by senior delegations from the Sri Lankan government in February and the Tamil National Alliance in April.

Both of these delegations also met Deputy President Ramaphosa and invited him to visit Sri Lanka.

The tension between the government, dominated by the country’s majority ethnic Sinhalese people, and the minority Tamil community stems from the civil war between the government and the Tamil Tigers ,which climaxed in 2009 with the government’s troops capturing Tamil areas in the north.

Some human rights activists have expressed concern that the reconciliation initiative by the Sri Lankan government is a manoeuvre to avoid culpability for alleged war crimes committed during the civil war.

Meanwhile, Sapa reports that the Presidency said on Monday that Ramaphosa did not have a Twitter account or any other account on any social media platform,

All information on Ramaphosa’s activities as deputy president would be updated on official presidency accounts, the Presidency said.

One of the accounts, @CyrilRamaphosa, has a profile picture showing the deputy president popping a Champagne bottle, while the background picture is of a vault filled with gold coins.

The latest tweet, posted on Monday, said: “Arrived in Sri Lanka. It’s hot. Doing some gov work, but here mainly to watch the Proteas give them a klap!”

The Mercury


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