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Report Calls for Sri Lanka to Urgently Address Governance Issues

The Sri Lanka branch of the global civic group, Transparency International, is lamenting the lack of progress in fighting corruption there following the military's victory in the 25-year-civil war.

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An anti-corruption civic organization says graft and violence are marring Sri Lanka's recovery after the end of its civil war.  

The Sri Lanka branch of the global civic group, Transparency International, is lamenting the lack of progress in fighting corruption there following the military's victory in the 25-year-civil war.

In its annual governance report for Sri Lanka, the organization notes some improvement, but says the country's recovery is being hampered by a continued lack of accountability, democracy and transparency.

Transparency International Sri Lanka Deputy Executive Director Rukshana Nanayakkara says it is incumbent on the government to usher in a new era.

"After the war it must now focus on governance.  And, then, if we have good governance it will close a lot of avenues for corruption," he said.

Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa has said that after the defeat of the rebel Tamil Tigers the next war would have to be against corruption.  But critics allege he and his two brothers - one who is the defense secretary and the other a key presidential advisor - have used their positions to amass wealth and squander public resources.

Nanayakkara tells VOA News corruption allegations have been leveled at the government for years.

"It is more about a problem of grand corruption and lack of commitment from the government.  They are interested in basically earning money for themselves," he said.

Mr. Rajapaksa faces a significant challenge in the January 26 presidential election from his former top military chief, General Sarath Fonseka, who has called bribery and corruption "rampant" in the country.

The annual Transparency report also takes Sri Lanka to task for not improving human rights and media freedom.  Several dozen Sri Lankan journalists have been killed in the past five years.

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